March 21, 2017

Even some lawyers mess up the distinction between an opening statement and a closing argument.  If you look closely at the phrasing, it's easy to see that a statement is different than an argument.  In an opening statement, the attorney or self-represented party will make an offer of proof to the judge or jury about what the evidence is going to be.  Good trial attorneys typically tell a story about what happened and what will be supported by the evidence to be presented.  Argument about that evidence, however, is for closing.  

In a closing argument, all the evidence will have been presented to the judge or jury and the attorney or...

March 15, 2017

A new case came down from the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division II, in November of 2016.  The case is Sherman v. Sherman, CA-CV 15-0201 FC (App. 2016), and creates a line of precedent unlike anything seen before in Arizona.  In the Sherman case, the court ordered that a “revolving credit line” between the father and his cousin and her husband be attributed to his income for purposes of child support. It was a $100,000 line of credit and the father had utilized $35,000 of it in approximately six months.  The Court based this ruling on two items: first, that father had not shown any significant changes to his lifestyle or expenditures, and second, that...

March 9, 2017

In criminal cases, it's common for cases to take longer than expected for various reasons.  Any misdemeanor or felony case in Arizona, and in Pima County specifically, has "case management conferences" or "status conferences" that are held about once every month or so.  They are the courts method to make sure the case is moving along.  The parties will verify or deny that disclosure (police reports, witness statements, lab reports, etc.) are disclosed, whether or not the parties are moving towards trial or attempting to resolve the case in a plea agreement, or any other issue that may have arisen.    

What about my speedy trial right...

December 12, 2016

 Attorney Maggie Higgins Schmidt weighs in about this recent issue concerning cops and their body cameras: 

"A curative jury instruction should absolutely be given when an officer equipped with a body camera does not use the body camera during an encounter with a civilian."

Click on the link below to read the full news item: 

https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/if-cops-dont-turn-their-body-cameras-courts-should-instruct-juries-think-twice

October 20, 2016

Often clients or prospective clients will ask: when does the child's opinion matter to the Court?  When can they decide where they want to live?  Some clients believe the age is twelve or thirteen years old but there is no hard and fast age that the Arizona Courts will then automatically listen to the child's opinion.  

The Court may determine a child is too young to voice their opinion, and/or the court may be concerned about one or both parents having too much influence over the child at their age.  In Pima County, the Court can order that a child be interviewed by the Conciliation Court.  In this interview, a trained professional with the C...

September 25, 2016

Everyone has seen the court TV shows and movies depicting court rooms and procedures, but being there in person is a different beast, especially if it's your first time.  Here are key things to remember:

1. Stand when the judge enters the room and sit when they say "please be seated."

2. When addressing the court, refer to the judge as "Your Honor."  Speak up for the court record. 

3. Do not speak over other parties, the judge, or court room staff.  Treat the judge and the court room staff with respect.  The only interruption that is acceptable is to object when the opposing party is presenting objectionable evidence.

4. Avoid making gesture...

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