Pro bono attorneys of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACOTL) presented a trial practice training seminar for sixteen legal services staff attorneys Sept. 4 and 5 at the Duval County Courthouse.
Chief Judge Donald Moran delivered a word of welcome and launched the day-and-a-half-long seminar from his hearing room. Judges Virginia Norton and Roberto Arias also offered opening remarks to the participating attorneys.
Ten accomplished and highly respected trial attorneys presented information on procedural topics and also provided individual coaching and guidance to participating legal services attorneys from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) and Three Rivers Legal Services (TRLS).
The ACOTL pro bono presenters included A. Graham Allen Jr., Jephtha Barbour, James Cobb, Sam Jacobson, James F. Moseley Sr., Rufus Pennington, Charles Pillans, George (Buddy) Schulz, Harry Shorstein and William Sheppard.
Moseley spearheaded the project and also served as one of the presenters. He recruited the other presenting attorneys and worked with the courthouse staff to reserve courtroom space for the event. Moseley also met with a team of JALA staff attorneys to develop the hypothetical case and coordinate event logistics.
Before the seminar, the participating attorneys were divided into two groups and each attorney was assigned the role of counsel for the plaintiff or for the defendant and given the facts of a hypothetical case.
Using the hypothetical case and prior to the seminar, attorneys prepared opening statements, direct examination and cross-examination lines of questioning and closing statements.
During the course of the seminar, each attorney had the opportunity to deliver his or her prepared statements and questioning strategies. They received one-on-one guidance and instruction.
The law students and recent graduates played the parts of witnesses and were invited to attend the two-day seminar: Jahlysa D. Stewart, Latoria Lundy, Theresa Carli, Christine Martin, Stephanie Chopurian, Elizabeth Greene, Amy Lane and Shikha Bhangu.
The final portion of the seminar included a one-hour presentation focusing on ethical considerations of trial practice. Judge Tatiana Salvador also offered some concluding remarks and words of encouragement to the legal services attorneys.
Jim Kowalski, executive director of JALA, said, "It's really impossible to quantify the value of this caliber of training experience for legal services attorneys. Zealous skilled representation for both parties is what makes our system of justice the best in the world. Fairness should not be available only to those who can pay for it.
"This team of pro bono attorneys has made us better advocates for those can't afford to pay for representation," Kowalski continued. "All of us in the community benefit and all of us in legal services are deeply appreciative of their generous sharing of their expertise and experience."
Providing training for legal services staff attorneys and for other pro bono attorneys is an important and valuable way to support and strengthen the availability of skilled representation for low-income persons.
For information on pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit, attorneys are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairwoman of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at [email protected].