(Every Bankruptcy Lawyer Needs to Know to Try an Every Bankruptcy Lawyer Needs to Know to Try an Issue…

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  • (Every Bankruptcy Lawyer Needs to Know to Try an Issue of Fact)Presenters:

    Honorable Carlota M. Bohm, United States Bankruptcy Court-Western District of PennsylvaniaGeorge M. Cheever, Esquire- K&L Gates LLP

    Joseph Leibowicz, Esquire-Leibowicz Law LLCRoger P. Poorman, Esquire-McGrath McCall, P.C.

    George.Cheever@klgates.com K&L Gates LLP 412.355.8371 www.klgates.comJoseph@Leibowicz-law.com Leibowicz Law LLC 412.281.5202 www.Leibowicz-law.comRpoorman@lenderlaw.com McGrath McCall, P.C. 412.281.4333 www.lenderlaw.com

  • Most cases never go to trial; they settle But if you are not prepared to try a case, you wont settle well Effective trial preparation is effective settlement preparation Nearly all time spent in discovery and motion practice Obstruction can be a good thing in the short run But it may doom you at trial

  • Facts matter Bad facts matter Your clients bad facts matter Investigate Fearlessly The sooner you find out about a problem, the more time you have to figure out a

    way to solve it Ask your client hard questions Your client views the case subjectively, but you must take an objective view (prior

    to trial)

  • Never assume that the law and rules are the same as they were the last time you looked at them-LOOK AGAIN! Look for opinions written by the Judge you are appearing in front of

    Know the substantive law not just the words, the values Focus on the elements of your clients claim/defense The elements are your roadmap

    Know the Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to your case Most of the Part VII Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure apply to contested

    matters-but not all

  • Know the Rules of Evidence Rules/issues likely to be encountered Hearsay Business records Relevancy

    Know the Judges individual chamber rules and requirements The Judges website can be a wealth of information

    Know the Unwritten Rules

  • Once you know the facts and the law, develop a story If you dont have a story, you dont have a case The facts vindicate the values Keep It Simple! Know your audience If the facts dont fit the story you need to change the story, not the facts A jump ball goes to the most trustworthy party

  • Bankruptcy Judges have huge caseloads and are very busy-identify the issues and make it clear to the Court what those issues are

    Doing so helps you to effectively prepare for trial and settlement Most facts should not be in dispute by the time you get close to trial Only fight about whats important-pick your battles Focus on the elements of the claim/defense

    Try to agree on the applicable law Most of the time this should not be controversial

  • Resolve evidentiary disputes in advance Limit motion practice Dont be a Jackass Judges will require you to do all these things in Pretrial Statements Sample pretrial statements for all 4 Judges are included in your materials

  • Prepare a trial book (electronic or otherwise) What are the elements I need to prove, and how will I prove them?

    Witnesses (Fact and Expert) Exhibits Admissions Stipulations Preliminary Rulings

  • Premark all exhibits and provide copies to the Court and opposing counsel Mark the exhibits as set forth in the Judges practices/procedures (some Judges

    have very specific instructions) Visit the courtroom, confirm available technology and functionality Make sure you know how to use any technology you plan to incorporate

    (remembering the importance of simplicity) Issue appropriate subpoenas and notices to appear

  • Trial is unfamiliar territory-make the process easier for them Tell your witnesses: What to bring Drivers license! What to wear Where to get off the bus, T, or park their car Where to meet you (or someone from your office) What time to arrive (remembering people tend to be late) How long they can expect to be there Other things to expect (security, crowdedness, etc.)

  • For every witness and piece of evidence, ask: How will this testimony/piece of evidence help establish my case? If you cant immediately answer this question, then you probably dont need that

    witnesss testimony or that evidence Prepare Witness Outlines Each witnesss contribution to the story Exhibits to be introduced/used by the witness Address weaknesses in direct testimony Anticipate objections and other admissibility issues

  • Prepare cross examination outlines Deposition testimony Exhibits Listen carefully Adjust on the fly as needed

    Do live runs with witnesses (if time and resources allow)

  • Tell your story Listen and watch carefully Expect surprises Witnesses make mistakes Judges make mistakes You make mistakes

    Dont be a Jackass Keep the theatrics to a minimum-there is no jury

  • Watch the time Know when to stop on direct and cross Know whether to cross at all

    Know when to object -and when not to Be prepared to change your game plan Sometimes you have to risk the unknown-especially in bankruptcy! Preserve issues for appeal

  • Bankruptcy judges are very busy Make the issues obvious Following the local rules/courtroom procedures gives you credibility

    Earn the Judges trust Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law Respect the office, whether or not the man or woman Dont be a Jackass


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    :Case No. F11 TO REPLACE-TPA

    Debtor(s) : Chapter F11 TO REPLACE :


    : :

    Adversary No. Doc. No.

    Plaintiff(s) : Related to Doc No. F11 TO REPLACE :

    v. : :


    : :

    Hearing: F11 TO REPLACE

    Defendant(s) :

    PRETRIAL SCHEDULING ORDER AND 7016(f) NOTICE AND NOW, this F11 TO REPLACE day of F11 TO REPLACE, after hearing on

    F11 TO REPLACE(pleading and filing party) filed by F11 TO REPLACE, pursuant to

    Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7016, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that all discovery

    shall close on F11 TO REPLACE.

    It is FURTHER ORDERED, that:

    (1) On or before F11 TO REPLACE (14 days), all preliminary motions

    including motions for summary judgment must be filed. If pleadings are not filed within the

    specified time period, the Courts calendar will not permit the motion(s) to be heard prior to the

    date of trial.

    (2) At the times listed below, Counsel for the Parties shall file with the Clerk

    and serve upon opposing counsel, a Pretrial Narrative Statement/Stipulation (hereinafter

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    Pretrial Statement) using the form attached to this Order and marked Exhibit A including

    (among the other things listed in the form): (a) A brief statement of the case, including proposed

    findings of fact and conclusions of law; (b) The names and addresses of witnesses expected to

    be called; and, (c) A list of the exhibits to be offered.

    (3) On or before F11 TO REPLACE (same date as in Paragraph 1),

    Plaintiff(s)/Movant(s)/Claimant(s) portion of the Pretrial Statement shall be finalized and

    served on all Parties with a copy filed with the Court. On or before F11 TO REPLACE (14

    days later), Defendant(s)/Respondent(s)/Claimant(s) portion of the Pretrial Statement shall be

    finalized and served on all Parties with a copy filed with the Court. [(Add this to paragraph only

    if relevant) On or before (14 days later), any Third Party Defendant(s) portion of the Pretrial

    Statement shall be finalized and served on all Parties with a copy filed with the Court.] The

    Parties shall then meet and prepare a Consolidated Pretrial Statement. On or before F11 TO

    REPLACE (14 days later), Plaintiff/Movant/Clamant shall file with the Court the completed and

    Consolidated Pretrial Statement signed by all Parties.

    (4) The Final Pretrial Conference in this matter shall take place on F11 TO

    REPLACE (no earlier than 14 days later) at F11 TO REPLACE. The Parties must supply the

    Court with a copy of Exhibits at least three (3) business days prior to the Final Pretrial

    Conference. See the Pretrial Narrative Form at 7(C)(1). All of the matters scheduled above

    will be heard in: (the Bankruptcy Courtroom, U.S. Courthouse, 17 South Park Row, Erie, PA

    16501 OR Courtroom C, 54th Floor, U.S. Steel Tower, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA).

    Trial will be scheduled at that time for a date soon to follow. Unless prior leave of Court to

    excuse such appearance on the basis of extraordinary circumstances is granted, it is mandatory

    for lead Trial Counsel to appear at the Final Pretrial Conference.

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    (5) Failure by any Party to timely comply with any terms of this Order will

    result in the imposition of sanctions on said Party by, inter alia, reprimand, fine, prohibition

    against said Party from offering testimony and/or dismissal.

    _____________________________________ Thomas P. Agresti, Judge United States Bankruptcy Court

    Case administrator to serve: F11 TO REPLACE

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    IN RE: ________________________________ : Case No. ________________-TPA

    Debtor(s) : Chapter __________________ :

    _____________________________ :: Plaintiff(s) : v. : Adversary No. _____________

    _____________________________ : Defendant(s) :

    (Note: The designation Plaintiff(s)/Defendant(s) has been used throughout this form.

    Depending on