I’m off tomorrow morning to speak to the Henry County, Georgia, Bar Association. The topic is a good one after wrapping up a week of trial. That topic is preserving the record for appeal. It seems like every seminar has the preserving the record speaker, the ethics speaker, and the professionalism speaker. You can tell when one of those speakers is up because the half of the room that is awake is out at the little snack area. Tomorrow, I am one of those speakers. And I’m on at 8:15 on the seminar’s second day — affectionally known in CLE parlance as “the hangover hour.”
To top it all off, I have decided to do my presentation using Prezi. I’ve seen a few talks with this system, and it seems like a great alternative to Keynote, which is what I usually use. The free-flowing system appears to lend itself to conversation and questions.
The first order of the presentation was to define exactly what it means to preserve a record for appeal. And I think I hit upon a good definition for it that is very commonsense. So here goes the definition:
Giving the trial court the opportunity to make a decision now so that the appellate court can make a different decision later.
Later in the talk I will discuss how your likelihood of success on appeal is directly proportional to the rate of judicial decisionmaking that takes place at trial. At the same time, a criminal case is a play in two acts. Ideally, you want to win it in the first act, but if you don’t you need a script for the second act. Getting that script sometimes means getting yelled at in act one.
I was reminded this week of all that goes into trying to win act one while ensuring that there would be an act 2.
I’ve been the preserve the record guy at other CLEs in the past. After this week’s trial, I’m approaching it with more humility to the trial bar. I will be nowhere near as preachy on this topic as I have been in the past.