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pre-trial checklist

Ten Things Every Domestic Litigant Needs To Do the Night Before and Day of Trial

In the simple to complex legal and factual world constituting domestic litigation, sometimes anything that can go wrong will. Nowhere is this more true–or potentially damaging–than on the eve of trial or on the day of the trial itself.

Over the years, I have observed a number of such scenarios play out with litigants and attorneys (even myself) that you can avoid by expecting the best of your attorney and any of Indiana’s dedicated trial judges, which will take care of itself, worrying about the non-legal issues that sometimes trip the best of us up.

While the litigation itself and trial are high stressors, life can really compound this in some random ways; so to use the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.” Any little thing you prepare for may be unnecessary, but equally, the lack of preparation may also trip you up and impact your trial, which is game day!

At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we have developed a check list of sorts to avoid some of these pitfalls. We hope these help you.

Consider the following the night before the trial:

1. Pick a time to be done worrying about or considering the “what ifs”. This is not a substitute for lack of preparation, which should have occurred before this time. And do something relaxing, like watch a TV show.

2. Confirm the time (and time zone if it differs), telephone numbers (attorney and the court), courtroom, meeting location, fill the car up with gas, get money (such as for a meal the next day), print a map, and/or check the weather.

3. Gather your clothes for the next day (do not learn the morning of trial your special suit is at the cleaners).

4. Set two clocks, including one with backup power (yes power failures occur magically just before trials, as do storms).

5. Get a good night’s sleep.

On the day of trial, there are similar and equally important considerations:

6. Get up early and get an early start in case of bad weather, road construction, or any of the other odd-ball, but ever common events of daily commutes, including a dead battery.

7. Eat! It may sound simple, but in the intensity associated with a trial in which there is typically a lot hanging in the balance, it is easy to forget. Assume you will have limited food breaks (take a snack) and arrange for court to run late (daycare).

8. Expect rain and to pay for parking (it may be sunny, and a small town), but it just may be the weather takes a drastic change during the day of trial (I still have a tie that is wrinkled from a pouring rain storm I walked through carrying boxes several blocks after a trial) and that little town has installed parking meters or paid lots. Looking for quarters 10 minutes before the trial begins to feed the meter is less than optimal.

9. Follow your normal routine if you can. Structure is the fabric of our day, and if stopping at a favorite drive through for a soft drink with crushed ice is a part of the morning ritual, stick to it. Failing to do the simplest things can get almost any of us off to a bad start in the right situation.

10. Be yourself. Most any seasoned lawyer or judge will understand being apprehensive about trial. However, that is far different from trying to act in such a way as to influence the weighing of the evidence under the law. Ultimately, being yourself is where you will appear most credible and do the better job of presenting your case.

As seasoned domestic advocates, we practice what we preach and do these very things. If you do so, it is at worst an unnecessary exercise. On the other hand, it just might help you help yourself and be focused on the trial. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C.


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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counsel. Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Dixon & Moseley, P.C.

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