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Category Archives: NITA Notes

NITA Welcomes Our Class of 2014 Next Generation Faculty

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Three Next Generation Faculty (NGF) members have been chosen from a dozen candidates. This year’s outstanding class of up and coming NITA faculty members are:


San Diego County Public Defender

Legal Education
University of San Diego School of Law, J.D. received May 2005
Member of the California Bar
, 2005-Present
Institute of International & Comparative Law, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Summer 2003

Honors & Activities
Mock Trial Tournament: 2nd Place Plaintiff Team Overall, 2004
Pro Bono Legal Advocates: Trained mediator for small claims court, 2003-2004
Moot Court Board Associate Member: Alumni Torts Competition semi-finalist, 2003

Prelegal Education
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, B.A. received 2001 with high distinction, Political Science
Minors, English, & International Affairs

Honors & Activities
Phi Beta Kappa
High Distinction (top 5%)
Dean’s Honor List, 1998-2001
Hubert & Louise Ostdeik Scholarship, 1999-2001
Virginia Haven & Smith Scholarship, 1998
Pi Sigma Alpha Vice President, 2001

San Diego County Public Defender, San Diego, CA. Attorney
Handle 140+ felony cases annually from start to finish. Negotiate cases with the dstrict attorney. Enter pleas on behalf of my clients. Write motions regarding constitutional violations or other legal matters that arise during the course of the case. Construct mitigation motions for post-conviction matters.  Attend numerous MCLE trainings annually. Conducted over 30 trials. (2005-Present)

Trial Highlights
The People v. Ryan W.: Utilized an accident reconstruction expert. The State charged two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (vehicle). The jury found not guilty on all counts.
The People v. Jeffrey H.: Retained and consulted with a gay and lesbian expert. The State charged various sex crimes. The jury hung on all counts. The case settled for one felony and 365 days custody on what started as a life case.
The People v. Sandy M.: Utilized a neurologist and biomechanics expert. The State charged child abuse with serious and violent allegations. Trial included direct and cross-examination of highly skilled experts. The jury hung. The case settled for a felony and credit for time served.

National Institute for Trial Advocacy, San Diego & San Francisco. Assistant Team Leader and Trial Skills Instructor, presenting lectures and demonstrations for specific aspects of a trial as needed. Assist Program Directors and Team Leaders during NITA programs in San Francisco and San Diego.  Critique and advise practicing attorneys on conducting a trial from start to finish. (2008-Present)

University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, CA. Adjunct Professor
Critique and teach law students on various aspects of conducting a trial from start to finish. Prepare lectures and demonstrations for each targeted section of a trial from week to week. 2012 & 2014


Office of Amy Hanley

Assistant Attorney General Amy Hanley is the lead prosecutor for capital crimes in the Criminal Division of the Office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Hanley prosecutes high-level crimes throughout the state of Kansas, including murder, sexual abuse of children, and possession and distribution of child pornography. She is cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the specific purpose of prosecuting online crimes against children.

Hanley earned the 2011 KCDAA Associate Member Prosecutor of the Year honor for her work in the courtroom and leadership in the legal community. She was lead prosecutor in State v. Kahler, an Osage County capital case in which the death penalty was imposed. She is a faculty instructor of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and regularly provides training to prosecutors and law enforcement, including the AG’s Call, KCDAA, KBI, KACE, HARCFL, and ICAC. Hanley coordinates the semi-annual meeting of Kansas capital prosecutors. She also serves as a voting member of the Kansas Sentencing Commission.

Hanley is an adjunct trial advocacy instructor at Washburn University Law School and coach of the Washburn Mock Trial team, leading a team to the regional finals in 2011. Hanley joined the Attorney General’s office in 2009 after seven years as First Assistant in the Office of the Saline County Attorney in Salina, Kansas.

A native of Lost Springs, Kansas, Hanley earned her J.D. from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and a B.A. in Political Science from Kansas State University.


USD School of Law Trial Advocacy Professor and Practicing Lawyer

Linda Lane is a solo practitioner specializing in consumer product advisement.  She regularly provides consultation and advice to her clients regarding potential product liability exposure related to new or existing product lines. Since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA”), Ms. Lane has actively assisted many clients in ensuring that they are in compliance with the new, heightened regulatory requirements for consumer products.

Until Spring 2013, Ms. Lane was a litigation partner in the San Diego office of Morrison & Foerster, LLP.  Her practice focused on product liability litigation with an emphasis on consumer products and aviation defense.  She has successfully first-chaired jury trials to verdict and conducted several evidentiary arbitrations.  Ms. Lane has argued numerous dispositive motions in both state and federal courts and has taken and defended many depositions of parties, expert witnesses, and third parties.

In addition to her legal practice, Ms. Lane is the lead instructor for the Trial Advocacy Course at the University of San Diego School of Law.  Her passion for teaching was the reason for her departure from Morrison & Foerster, and she now hopes to dedicate more time to pursuing this path.

Ms. Lane is a member of the board of directors for the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. She was a lecturer and instructor at the University of San Diego’s Law School Post-Grad Oral Advocacy Skills Training Program (Fall 2012).  She is a certified NITA instructor and regularly teaches for NITA programs.  In 2009 and 2012, she received the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services from the State Bar of California.  Ms. Lane is recommended by Legal 500 U.S. in the area of “product liability and mass tort defense: consumer products.”

Prior to joining Morrison & Foerster, Ms. Lane was an associate with Gray Cary Ware and Freidenrich LLP.  From 1999 to 2000, she was a judicial clerk for the Honorable Lewis T. Babcock, Chief Judge of the United States District Court of Colorado, Denver.  Ms. Lane is a native of San Diego and received her B.A. degree from the University of California, Irvine (1994), and her J.D. from the University of Colorado (Order of the Coif, 1998). During law school, she was the case note/comment editor for the University of Colorado Law Review.  She lives in San Diego with her husband and three young sons.

As members of the NGF Class of 2014, Monique, Amy, and Linda, will be trained and invited to teach at the geographically diverse NITA trial and deposition programs between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014, to gain more experience to NITA learning-by-doing teaching.

Jury Selection Part 1: Voir Dire

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lindaLanewritten by guest blogger and NITA faculty member Linda Lane

How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?  His lips are moving.

Have you heard that one?  Chances are good that so has your jury!

Ours is an uphill battle, especially at the early stage of voir dire.  In a juror’s eyes, you are the one that is perhaps single-handedly responsible for plucking her out of her happy existence and putting her in this courtroom.  She received her jury summons weeks ago.  She has been dreading this day.  She has arranged coverage for other areas of her life.  She may have even tried to post-pone it once, or twice.  There are at least a dozen places that she should be instead of this courtroom.  You are interrupting her life.  You are an inconvenience.  And she doesn’t trust you.  She has heard the lawyer jokes.

Your job as the attorney conducting voir dire is to begin the process of dissuading your jury of their preconceived notions of attorneys and becoming their trusted guide through the trial.

This begins at voir dire.  Truly, this begins the moment they first see you.  Even if it’s in the parking lot before trial.  They will watch how you treat others.  They will watch how you treat the Court and its staff.  They will especially watch how you treat them and their fellow jurors in voir dire.  As soon as they are in the jury box, it is “us” and “them.”  They have an instant bond with their fellow jurors and you are separate, you are “them.”  You must treat each one with respect—even those that you know you will challenge and be rid of.  Maybe, especially those. The rest will have witnessed it and will remain in the box.

Voir dire is an amazing opportunity to interact with the jury, before the trial, on a personal level.  As such, you need to take full advantage of it.  You need to be human. You need to look at them, in the eye.  You need to respect them.  You need to be kind (but not syrupy, disingenuous).  You need to listen when they talk.  You need to pay attention to them.  You need to be interested in them.  You need to call them by name.  You will be asking them to trust you in this trial and you must give them grounds to do so.

You need to show appropriate sympathy when they tell you why they cannot serve on this jury.  Your potential juror’s mother died of a heart attack earlier this year and he doesn’t think he can be fair in evaluating a malpractice claim based on the prescription of a cardiac drug.  First, acknowledge his response and express appropriate sympathy for his loss, give thanks for his openness and honesty.  Only then, try to note, through appropriate questions, how your case differs.

Of course you also should do all of the things we are taught about voir dire:  artfully weave in your trial themes; choose words that spin your case the way you want it spun; de-select those jurors who seem pre-disposed against you, your client, or the facts; identify leaders and followers.  But, possibly the most important lesson of voir dire—and the one most easily forgotten when we are stressed, being watched by our client or senior partners, and on the eve of what might be the most important week(s) of your client’s business or your career—is to take time to be kind and show respect.  

Linda Lane is a USD School of Law Trial Advocacy Professor and solo Practicing Lawyer specializing in consumer product advisement.  She regularly provides consultation and advice to her clients regarding potential product liability exposure related to new or existing product lines. Since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), Ms. Lane has actively assisted many clients in ensuring that they are in compliance with the new, heightened regulatory requirements for consumer products. 

March 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: NITA’s First Quarter 2014: Forward, Grow!

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Lockwood_KarenIn my monthly letters this year, I have reflected on substantive topics of interest. In February:  what does it feel like to be a NITA alum, not thinking only of the courtroom, but rather thinking of your image — in your city or region or practice, among your peers or role models, to your junior admirers?  In January:  what does “experiential learning” mean, and does it best fit after actual practice experience?  And in December, I posed these and other topics that provide the essential inspirations of NITA. 

Today, I report rather than reflect. Springing from my December points of inspiration, here are a few of our accomplishments during the first quarter of 2014.

  • Our founders. At our 2014 Annual Program Directors’ meeting in January, each PD was asked to narrate the first time they had a conversation about NITA. Their individual answers wove a web of dedication and community. Each had been personally recognized and handed on to NITA by a faculty member or founder, from which they grew into the NITA community. As more stories were added, the reverence in the room grew like a vision. The accomplishment? — A consolidated push to engage our entire network in searching for and handing forward the talent and potential talent that lives around us in all of our states. We need your to help find these lawyers who need to know NITA. Call your program director with your referrals. Call NITA too. They deserve to have you hand them the vision and benefit of NITA. We have energized the network: you are a vital part of it.
  • Our faculty. As new program directors gradually succeed to those who are ready to pass that torch, we welcome their dedication, talent, and new ideas. The NITA way of grooming the best trial skills faculty in the nation is to take what we have – the best – and keep it tip-top through both mutual efforts to improve individual teaching “in the moment,” and targeted efforts to add a few new faculty members each year. Emerging from this rigor of maintaining excellent teaching, sharing lecture and leadership roles, and coaching each other, future program directors emerge and will eventually lead the program with continuity and excellence. The accomplishment? — A concrete focus on recognizing that NITA in its next 40 years must and will continue to provide the best faculty in the field, faculty that are sharp, experienced, up-to-date, and innovative. NITA – bigger than each of us, made up of all of us.
  • Public service: As I mentioned in December, times change, and we change with it. Times in the economy have generated troubled times in serving justice where there are few means. Our founders’ vision of improving justice through the art of advocacy means that all of the advocates need to be brought to the table – those who represent paying clients and also those who represent clients without means or access to justice. Those who prosecute and those who defend. Everyone who stands up to oppose the other in our advocacy system of justice. The accomplishment? – We are growing The NITA Foundation by increasing its capacity to fund not only scholarships but also public service programs aimed at the lawyers who represent the underserved. We want to – we need to — find more ways to extend our work to these underserved lawyers. In 2014 you will see us test your capacity to help us reach donors:
    • Focusing on specific programs like the Child Advocacy program at Hofstra in late spring as moments when we must fund from our public service program funds and replenish those funds.
    • Welcoming gifts to the Annual Fund, which allow us flexibility to target an additional scholarship or additional support needed to run a public service program.
    • Special events! We are working on an exciting new type of event in a major city in October, an event that is both entertaining and essential to serving justice the NITA way. Watch for news of this; join our supporters of justice when we reach out to you.

As a zero-based budget organization, we cannot live beyond our means.  Our public service budget for 2014 is 17% higher than the donations received in 2013 – already a challenge. More to the point, we must set our 2015 budget another 50% higher than that.  We will do so if you show us now that we can budget for that higher capacity next year.  Our public service depends on it, in this economy.

In short, we have a strong performance in the first quarter. We have a bigger-than-ever financial need for public service work. And we have built and are already walking concrete paths to expand our enrollments through your networking, continue grooming the best trial advocacy faculties in the nation, and support justice broadly by reaching all lawyers.

I hope you will write to me, and comment on our blog where my ED letters are posted.



Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President & Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

Congratulations to NITA Faculty Member Tom Geraghty

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Geraghty_ThomasWe would like to congratulate NITA faculty member Thomas F. Geraghty, who received the 2013 Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (IACDL) Lifetime Achievement Award for his professional accomplishments and dedication to justice. The IACDL honored Geraghty at the association’s annual dinner on November 15. Geraghty is the associate dean for clinical education and director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic and has been a member of the Northwestern Law community for more than forty years. He maintains teaching, fundraising, and administrative responsibilities at the law school and has an active caseload at the Bluhm Legal Clinic, concentrating primarily in criminal and juvenile defense, death penalty appeals, child-centered projects dealing with the representation of children, and juvenile court reform.

Learn more about the Award and Tom Geraghty.

NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goal is to:
  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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