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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 01-26-2014, 10:15 PM
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Default Notes on giving a motion as SRL: 30 tips

I am soon to be giving a 2 day motion as a self-represented litigant on the substantive issues of my case. I hired a lawyer to give me some pointers and have been trying to gather information on various legal sites. Thought I would pass on the information that I have gained. If anyone who has either been in a motion or has given one can add to this list...would be much appreciated!!...especially before I have to present my motion!

1. Stand when you speak to the judge...never sit. Only speak after the judge has finished speaking. Call the judge your honor. Bow when you enter and exit the courtroom if the judge is present.
2. Never...ever...interrupt the judge. Let the judge finish talking before you speak.
3. Do not interrupt opposing counsel when they are giving their argument. If you interrupt them...expect them to do the same for you. Write down their very obviously wrong or misleading points...and work them into your argument.
4. Pick to argue what you think you will nail home. You don't need to harp on what the judge already seems bothered by.
5. Don't overwhelm the judge. Keep it simple and direct. If you are making reference to certain case law or to a point in your material...wait until the judge gets there in your BOA or your Exhibit...so that he/she can mark it before you continue with your argument.
6. Speak firmly and politely. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
7. Know that the judge will ask you questions. They will not remain silent. If they do remain silent...its not a good sign. It is far more valuable for you to respond to what the judges have on their mind than it is to repeat points that you already have in your brief. Don't postpone your answer or beat around the bush. Delaying your answer will irritate the judge.
8. Listen to any questions the judge asks you. Really listen to the question. Answer the question with a yes or no and then back it up with your evidence.
9. If you find you are getting sidetracked...say "One moment your honour...I want to go back to my notes and begin my next point...or finish my last point".
10. Take notes while opposing counsel is giving their argument. Watch the judge closely for any reaction that they have. Listen for what is bothering the judge. Try to get clues as to what needs clarification.
11. Assume the judge has read the Factum and nothing else (see other post from article Carole Curtis).
13. Know that you will get interrupted by questions. Try to have both a summary "tree" so that you can make sure you have argued all of your points as well as a more detailed "script" you can refer to if need be.
14. Argue the issue, the fact and the law. Tie in the law to all of your argument.
15. You can argue based on reasonableness.
16. Think about presenting a Compendium...this is a short indexed document with key pieces of your affidavit evidence or pages of case law. Easy to reference for the judge and for yourself. Kind of like Coles notes. Prepare one for the judge and for opposing counsel. Number where each piece of information came from at the top corner. Does not have to be filed or served. Have it bound at Staples. Give it to the judge before you start.
17. If you were questioned...bring ORIGINAL copy of questioning with you. Give it to the judge before the proceedings. Apparently only original is accepted.
18. If you are getting stuck by a judge that is asking the same question that you can not answer state " I don't believe I can be of further assistance on this issue, if I could return to the issue of... ."
19. Have a great opening statement. Write it and practise it. Practise it again.
20. Be respectful and confident. Restrict your argument to your best points. Put your best point FIRST.
21. Examine the logic of your claim. Judges will see when you are inconsistent.
22. Be reasonable. Leave the crazy at home. If you can advocate a reasonable concession and show that you are willing to compromise you will enhance your credibility.
23. Don't get bogged down in your factual minutiae...your time is limited and valuable...use it for argument.
24. Know your record..stick to your record.
25. Don't read to the judge. Reading will bore them. Treat your motion as a conversation. Maintain eye contact. Don't' mumble. Don't mutter. Judges may be older and slightly hard of hearing. Speak clearly and with good volume.
26. Avoid being emotional. Think of this as an intellectual debate. Good point for us SRL's who have greater potential of getting emotionally encased in our argument.
27.Bring everything to the court house. Everything. Your continuing record. your affidavits, your Factum, BOA, exhibits etc. Take it in a wheeling suitcase if you have to (thats what I do...looks a bit silly but I don't care).
28. Tab important parts of the transcript or the BOA. You don't want to waste time looking for valuable information.
29. If you get asked a question that you can not answer...you may be forced to say "I regret that I cannot supply that information." and move on.
30. Try not to throw up. That one I added myself. And remember that while you wish you didn't have to do this really stressful thing...at least you are not spending 500 bucks an hour for a lawyer to take your place.
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