Luncheon Seminar Series – Jury Selection: “Cause is Necessary”

Please join us for the next CATA Luncheon Seminar Series on March 12, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton Riverview Room at 12:00 p.m.  The luncheon will feature Dennis Mulvihill discussing jury selection in a program entitled – “Cause is Necessary.”  This will be our last seminar of the season, so we hope the weather cooperates and everyone can be there.

The registration form for the event is linked below.

Luncheon Seminar Registration Form

Appellate Judges Panel

The next CATA Luncheon Seminar Series will be held February 5, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton (Riverview Room) at 12:00 p.m.  The luncheon will feature a panel of distinguished appellate judges, including Judge Melody Stewart (8th District), Judge Eve Belfance (9th District), and Judge Thomas Wright (11th District).  The panel will discuss How to Maximize Your Effectiveness on Appeal.  The panel will be moderated by Mary Jane Trapp, Esq.

Click on the link below to download a your registration for this event.  We hope to see you there!

Luncheon Seminar Registration Form

Annual Litigation Institute set for May 30, 2014

CATA is pleased to announce that the Annual Litigation Institute will take place on Friday, May 30, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland.  This year’s seminar will be a full day event titled Story, Groups and Juries: Exploring New (and scary) Frontiers in the Courtroom.  Our guest speakers will be Carl Bettinger and Fredilyn Sison.  Learn about the presenters and see the agenda for the meeting below.

This is an event you will not want to miss!  Registration materials will be available soon.  Please mark your calendars.

Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys

May 30, 2014

Story, Groups and Juries: Exploring New (and scary) Frontiers in the Courtroom

  We’ve all heard the importance of “telling a story”, but  when was the last time anyone helped teach you how?

This program will teach trial attorneys classic story structure and group formation as it relates to trial work, particularly in voir dire, opening and closing. It will be a working, on-your-feet program, utilizing techniques from improvisational acting, classic story telling and psychodrama. During the workshop you will:

*Learn the basic skeleton of the herocentric story

*Explore how the different herocentric roles (hero, villain, victim, mentor, trickster) apply to a trial

*Be introduced to some improv basics – the concept of “Yes, and…”

*Explore, in action, the story spine.

*Explore, in action, how to get a witness off the stand and set a scene in the courtroom

*Be introduced, through the action method, to some new frontiers in voir dire: How to really see who is in front of you; Can you “yes, and…” anything?



Carl Bettinger of Shapiro Bettinger Chase LLP in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has litigated hundreds of personal injury, medical malpractice and nursing home neglect claims.  Author of Twelve Heroes, One Voice: Guiding Jurors to Courageous Verdicts (Trial Guides 2011), he has some of the largest personal injury verdicts in New Mexico, first for $54 million in a 2007 trial involving a ManorCare nursing home and then for $54.1 million in a 2009 trial involving a ResCare group home. He practices and consults in New Mexico and nationally. He focuses on bringing trials alive, utilizing a variety of non-conventional approaches, including those from  improvisational acting, storytelling and psychodrama. In a recent trial, he sang part of his closing. Before attending University of New Mexico Law School, Carl went to medical school at Boston University School of Medicine and then completed an internal medicine residency at The University of New Mexico. In his spare time he goes fishing.

Fredilyn Sison: Fredi is an honors grad of Cornell University and New York University School of Law.  Prior to joining the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina in the Asheville branch office, she served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Districts of Nebraska, Nevada and Idaho.  In 2005, she was visiting counsel at the Defender Training Branch and at the U.S. Sentencing Commission in Washington, D.C.  She has served on the faculty for the Federal Trial Skills Academy, the Sentencing Advocacy Workshop, 3Sisters Programs, National Advanced Defenders Program, Non-Capital Mitigation Seminar and Orientation Seminar for Federal Defenders.  Fredi co-authored Trial in Action: The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama, has written a chapter on child pornography in Practical Guide for Defending a Federal Case and on Voir Dire in the 3rd edition of Cultural Issues in Criminal Defense, co-wrote and edited chapters on Jury Selection and Foreign Law in Defending a Federal Criminal Case and has published articles on jury selection, cross examination and the effects of incarceration on families in The Champion and The Warrior.  She has been certified as a practitioner in psychodrama (“CP”), which employs guided dramatic action to examine problems and issues raised by individuals and groups.  Her interests include reading, hiking, piano, Improv and dancing.


Course Schedule

8:00 am: Registration

8:30-9:30: Herocentric story structure: The key to trial is story, but in order to understand how to tell a client’s story, the lawyer must first understand the component parts to classic herocentric story structure, as well as the character archetypes in such stories. This part of the course will focus on teaching the participants the nature of three act story structure (ordinary world, new world, climax and return), how the various parts of trial fit within that structure, how to paint the various characters in the case so that the jury will understand them to be Villain, Victim, Mentor or Hero, which, ultimately, is the role we want the jurors to play.

9:30-10:45: Improv exercises to warm up voice and body: As lawyers, our courtroom tools are our voice and our bodies. Of the five ways of communicating (spacework (i.e., engaging in a particular physical activity); movement; emotion; character; and words), lawyers tend to ignore all but words. These exercises will help the participants understand the power of non-verbal communication.

10:45-11:00: Break

11:00-12:00: Story telling exercises in action: This part of the course is designed to show the participants how to discover the stories in their cases through dramatic reenactment techniques that bring the stories alive, thereby not only discovering the stories, but providing the participants with material that can be shown to the jury, as opposed to just told.

12:00-1:00:  Lunch

1:00-2:30: New approaches to voir dire: The average voir dire often  produces nothing other than the resentment of potential jurors who see the attorney before them as trying to manipulate them.  This part of the course will explore techniques from improvisational acting and psychodrama that will provide the participants with new ways to connect with the jurors and to form a group.

2:30-2:45:  Break

2:45-5:00: Cont: New approaches to voir dire: A story which is told is nowhere near as compelling as one that is shown; that is why as kids we did “show and tell”, as opposed to “tell and tell”.  This part of the course will teach the participants the basics of setting dramatic scenes in the courtroom, weaving the same into their Openings and  Closings.

CATA Luncheon Seminar Series – Upcoming Events

Check out the Events page on our website for more information on the following upcoming CLE luncheons:

12/12/12 – Speaker Brett Burney will discuss how lawyers can utilize the iPad effectively in court and in their practice.

02/13/13 – “A View from the Bench” – A panel of 3 judges discuss discovery issues.

03/13/13 – Speaker Cathleen Bolek will talk about how personal injury attorneys can assist clients with employment law issues.

Also, stay tuned for further details on the CATA Litigation Institute’s upcoming CLE program in April 2013.

Luncheon Seminar Series – October 18, 2012

Slaying the Dragon: How to Beat ERISA Reimbursement Liens in Your Personal Injury Cases

Matt Wessler

The Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys will sponsor this new program in its Luncheon Seminar Series on October 18, 2012 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton, Skylight Office Space 1st Floor.  The seminar will be presented by Public Justice Kazen-Budd Attorney Matt Wessler, and focus on the watershed ERISA reimbursement decisions in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen and CGI v. Rose.  Click on the links below for more details on the luncheon and for a registration form.  We hope to see you there!

CATA Luncheon Seminar Series 10-18-12

10-18-12 CATA Lunch Seminar Registration Form