Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A New Understanding

by Death Penalty Seminar Attendee, Joetta Keene

I don't like war and, therefore, didn’t pay attention to it. 

I went to the Death Penalty Seminar at TLC and I felt as though I experienced war through my eyes and emotions and lost my best friend on the battle field. I cried in ways I did not know I was capable of crying. 

I thought torturing terrorists was stupid, but honestly didn’t pay much attention to it. I went to the Death Penalty Seminar at TLC and experienced what it was like to be water boarded and tortured through other acceptable torturing tactics. It made me feel as though we, as a country, had lost our way. 

But I also found hope in the form of the military lawyers. These folks fight to hold people accountable for what they have done. They are heroes because they are on the front lines fighting to maintain our basic rights to be free. 

I don't like war and found myself disliking the military; however, I found, while at TLC, that my consciousness shifted and I found heroes in those I previously didn't appreciate. 

I came to TLC to try to understand my client in a case that is about to go to trial. I left TLC understanding my country in ways I had chosen to ignore. I left TLC as I have before, with more compassion and hope.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Victory for Justice

Congratulations to TLC Faculty Member and 2002 alumni, Andy Vickery, for a receiving a plaintiff's verdict for his clients in a negligence case against a pharmaceutical company that knew people were dying from an undiagnosed side effect of their medication, but failed to take reasonable steps to help the doctors diagnose and treat it. 

The first victory of hopefully many, they have about 15 other cases against the company in the same court - the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. 

In an excerpt of his Closing Argument, Andy shared great insight into the principle and foundation of a jury's role in this (and every) trial:
"In fact, you know, lawyers -- I've been doing this 40 years, and one of the things you do is you make little seating charts, and you say, well, I want to remember what this person seemed to be interested in. And you all blew it out of the way. You sit wherever you want to. Every time you go back, you come back and about half of you sit in a different place, and that's fine. And you notice what else happens every time you go out and every time come back? We stand. We stand when you go out and we stand when you come back. Even Judge Haddad stands when you go out and when you come back.

"Why? Because we've summoned you to do something, we summoned you from your ordinary lives to do something on behalf of society that is nothing short of heroic. It is a heroic quest for truth and for justice, not just for Delores, but for every other person who takes Humira, for every other doctor who struggles to diagnose a disease. Because we've only seen the tip of the iceberg, folks. Those 16 cases that were reported, it's at least 160 real people; if there were really 36, it is at least 360, and it could be ten times that much.

"We've only seen the tip of the iceberg. And so you're summoned because society -- I mean, this goes back to 1776. This goes back to the Framers. And thank you for the Law Day, your Honor. Thank you. It made me proud to be a lawyer, Francis Scott Key was a lawyer. The Framers said that the guardians of justice, the people that discern the truth, that listen to it all and decide to sort the wheat from the chaff and who forge justice out of a situation, are people just like you, summoned from ordinary life to do that. And then, when your job is done, you're gone. You're not like a politician running for reelection or anything else.  You do the most important civic duty in America and you do it well and then you're gone. And I thank you for it. I thank you for it."

For the complete transcript of Andy's winning Closing Argument, alumni may visit our password protected Alumni Archive page here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Death Penalty Seminar Reflections

By Death Penalty Seminar student Jeremy Bogart on June 7, 2013

Coming to TLC has been an amazing, eye-opening experience. First of all, the ranch is beautiful. The surrounding mountains, trees and fresh mountain air make for a wonderful place to put aside our normal everday lives and focus on our work.

TLC and the methods I have been taught here will undoubtedly make me a better lawyer. I have been practicing for 10 years and tried approximately 40 jury trials before coming here. The methods and techniques demonstrated by the amazing faculty have given me a new perspective on not only how to try my cases, but to tell my clients' stories.

I now possess many new advocacy tools and abilities that I will implement with my clients who face very serious charges.

Getting to work with other lawyers, investigators and mitigation specialists has recharged my batteries and provided a wonderful new community that I can turn to for support.  

I also believe that what is taught here goes beyond the courtroom. These skills will improve my communications, my ability to tell a story, and my interactions with others. I will gladly return in the future to absorb more of the ranch and this philosophy.