The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: NITA Press

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.

NITA Board Member Michael A. Kelly named Trial Lawyer of the Year

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Kelly_MikeRe-posted by NITA from the University of California Hastings College of the Law

NITA’s very own Michael A. Kelly has be recognized with the highest honor a California trial lawyer can receive. The   CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year is awarded annually to a recipient who exhibits the best traits of a trial lawyer: excellence in advocacy; a distinguished career; and a reputation for civility, ethics, and fair play.

Beginning in 1962, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) National Executive Committee decided to select an outstanding California lawyer to honor on an annual basis. Kelly’s selection was made by representatives from California’s eight ABOTA chapters, each of whom had nominated an individual for consideration.

The criteria for the award requires that the nominee 1) be an excellent advocate; 2) have a distinguished career; 3) have a superb reputation of civility, ethics, and fair play; and 4)  have participated in one or more outstanding trial results.

Read more on this outstanding accomplishment here.

NITA Remembers One Of Its Greats — Professor Eddie Ohlbaum

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photoOn the afternoon of Thursday, March 13, 2014, after a relatively short battle with cancer, NITA faculty member Edward “Eddie” Ohlbaum passed away. We are so very sad.

A devoted teacher of trial advocacy, Eddie’s untimely death creates a deep response within the NITA community. He was a leading NITA Faculty Member, and professor of trial advocacy at Temple University (view their tribute here), and so much more – an advocate for trial advocacy itself, plus a model of teaching that is superbly effective, of inventiveness that is collegial, and of advocacy that entertains.

“He was wicked smart, very funny, with a great heart and a gift for teaching,” said NITA Board Member Michael Kelly. “Simply a wonderful human being. The world will miss him.”

In 1984, Eddie was the first Team Leader at NITA’s brand new Gulf Coast Trial Skills Program. He continued to teach in many NITA programs throughout the 80’s and 90’s. His lecture demonstrations were legendary, especially those on closing arguments presented right here in Boulder, CO during our annual National Session.

“I certainly will miss the Ohlbaum wit and smile,” remembers Dominic Gianna, who is program director of the New Orleans Building Trial Skills program. “No doubt he is hard at work coaching heaven’s trial team as we speak and is chuckling at all of this. Objection overruled!! He was the best.”

Bob Stein, long-time NITA faculty member and former Program Director of the Boston trial program, chimes in: “Simply put, Eddie was an inspiration on so many levels, a gifted teacher, and a classy guy. In the dining category, he knew all the great restaurants (and dives) even before they were invented.” NITA faculty member Charlie Rose said, “He was a wonderful guy, full of piss and vinegar, and with a heart as large as the world in which we live. We will miss him each and every day.”

NITA Program Director Judge Mark Drummond recalls Eddie’s playfulness, the kind that creates collegial learning. “Eddie went with a group of us whitewater rafting and he tried to save me from falling out of the boat. Given my size versus his size, it did not work — but he tried. We gave him a little trophy with a little oar on it — the ‘Keep Your Oar in the Water Award’ for his display of heroism.”

NITA Executive Director Karen Lockwood notes what most singles out Eddie’s work. Eddie was marked by his devotion to his two crafts. First, teaching. Second, advocacy. Their marriage is what makes a NITA faculty member, and Eddie helped to develop and cement that admixture. He inspired everyone who taught with him – indeed he expanded the craft for all of those who teach trial advocacy.

Susan Steingass, NITA Board Member and former Board Chair, portrays the whole Eddie well: “Eddie was not only the best and the brightest but the funniest and the most compassionate. I will always see him at work and at play because they were the same Eddie. His loss leaves a hole that cannot be filled.”

Gifts in memory of Eddie may be made to the NITA Foundation under the Tribute Gift designation, or a desired fund (be sure to name Eddie Oldbaum). Donate here.

Please post a comment below to continue our sharing of thoughts and stories as we, together, remember NITA faculty member Professor Eddie Ohlbaum.

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.

In Memory of MJ Tocci

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Tocci_MJNITA would like to take a moment to honor the memory of a very talented and special member of the legal community, MJ Tocci. MJ died at age 60 on Saturday, February 15, at Canterbury Place in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, after an extended illness.

MJ was a talented member of the NITA faculty, teaching many programs well into 2005. A former trial lawyer turned legal consultant, she made it her life’s mission to work with women who were working to achieve success. She went to law school at the University of San Francisco and into a job as a prosecutor for the Alameda County district attorney in Oakland, Calif. There, MJ discovered her skill for recognizing the cases that needed to be dropped and her talent for going after truly bad guys. Over the next fifteen years, she did just that, prosecuting many cases, starting with smaller scale crimes and ultimately heading the major fraud unit. She was named “one of California’s most effective prosecutors” by California Lawyer magazine.

She moved to Pittsburgh in 1996, where she became a consultant, founding Fulcrum Advisors, which taught women lawyers how to try cases, and worked with law firms and corporations to recruit, retrain, and promote talented women. Her focus on women also lead her to team up with Linda Babcock, a Carnegie-Mellon economist, to start and direct the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, a five-month program for executive women. It was a professional accomplishment of which MJ was incredibly proud. In 2011, she was given the Athena Award by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. An engaging, focused and inspiring woman, MJ Tocci will be missed.

A memorial service in MJ’s honor will be held on April 5.

You can read more about MJ’s work here.

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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