As lawyers, a good reputation goes a long way. Lawyers do a stellar job of building their firms, and it takes a lot of work to avoid failure through hard work and dedication. For defense lawyers, records of all kinds of evidence are kept such as lab results, expert opinions, witness statements, etc. Writing it down may seem like a quick approach to being able to organize thoughts and information, until the opposition asks to “participate in discovery.” Lack of caution in information and note taking may work the opposite way in your favor.
In the United States of America v. Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta trial, Trump is facing 37 charges with more than 30 violations in the Espionage Act, and Trump pleaded not guilty.
Notes by M. Evan Corcoran, who was hired to represent Trump, could end up becoming critical evidence in the case. Corcoran recorded his recollections for his legal work in the last year with Trump, and this recording is now in the hands of the prosecutors of the case. The notes included a search he undertook to prepare for prosecutors appearing at the Mar-A-Lago resident to obtain remaining sensitive documents.
These personal notes ended up working against Corcoran, and ultimately for his client, former president Donald Trump. Avoid what Trump’s team did and maintain a phenomenal reputation as a lawyer to gain more cases.
1) Avoid putting everything in writing, especially if you do not want the opposition to see it. Corcoran's rookie mistake was taking so many personal notes that the prosecutor ended up being able to use it against him. If you do not want it reported later then do not put it in writing.
2) Proofread and review case notes. This one seems basic, but it might be one of the most vital overlooked tasks to do. There is nothing but benefits in double checking your notes, and nothing to lose with a quick review. You might catch a small slip up or mistake.
3) Talk to an expert witness verbally first. They are key in bringing the facts to the case in personal injury and medical malpractice trials. Before making the costly mistake of asking an expert for a 20-page draft, speak verbally on the phone or in person with them and retain the facts most useful for your case instead. This is more efficient and cost effective.
Here is another example of a case where all the above mistakes mentioned come together. Let’s review Kidder v. State (Fla. 2nd DCA,DCA, 2D12-3535, June 12, 2013). Kidder was involved in a DUI manslaughter case where Kidder’s blood registered 0.196 percent, according to government lab results. Defense did not want to fully trust government laboratories, so they took their own sample to a lab of their choosing. The problem is they put the lab results in writing. The state requested a written report and that hurt the defense counsel.
Ultimately, legal practice is an art form where an intricate dance between meticulous documentation, critical review, and strategic communication takes place. The trials of Trump and Kidder serve as a poignant reminder of the potential consequences when neglecting these fundamental tenets. Embrace an approach that values discretion, diligence, and strategic engagement. Lawyers can navigate their way towards a path of sustained success and reputation. Keep doing a good job as a lawyer and maintain being a trustworthy firm through disciplined practice which got you to your successful position.