A young lawyer came to see me yesterday. 

"How do you win cases?" 

The answer to that is not as simple as you might imagine. A friend and mentor says that he has "not lost a jury trial in over thirty years." Really? No losses? 

"Well, it kinda’ depends how you define ‘lost’!"

And that may be true, but what I have learned from that friend and mentor, and from watching some of the best trial lawyers in the land is that preparation is the key to success in court.

The difference is preparation. Period.

Not a Harvard education. Not having worked as a prosecutor, public defender, or judge. And certainly not having been in the courtroom for 20 or 30 years. 

The key to success – whether that is winning outright or obtaining the best possible result for your case – is preparation. Preparation is time spent getting ready for trial. 

So how can you help your lawyer get ready to win your case? Here are three ideas:

First – tell the lawyer the whole truth.

Second – empower the lawyer to spend the time he or she needs to get fully prepared.

Third – take his or her advice!

And if you are a lawyer reading this, remember that our obligation is to get ready for trial as best we can. If you don’t have time for the client, don’t take the case.

Now back to preparing for trial for me. One to go in January, another in February, and then three more later this year. Five trials may not sound like a lot, but getting ready to try those cases can take a lot of time.

How about you? Getting ready for trial? If you’re a lawyer with issues you need to bounce off another lawyer, give me a call. Let’s talk about your case.


Continue Reading Preparing for Trial – the KEY to success!

 If you have been injured by an Idaho state, county, or city employee and you want to bring a civil lawsuit for damages, you MUST file a notice of tort claim before you can bring a lawsuit to recover for your injuries. Even if the potential defendant is not an employee – you still must file the notice of tort claim to have a chance to recover money damages from injuries or death that resulted from a government employee or agent’s negligence.  The law in Idaho requires that the tort claims notice must be filed WITHIN 180 days of the date of your injuries. Again, if you do not file the notice of tort claims within that time, you HAVE NO RIGHT TO SUE.  

If your case involves any of the following types of entities or their employees or agents, you will need to file a Tort Claims Notice before you can bring suit:

  • State office or department;
  • State agency, authority, commission or board;
  • State hospital;
  • State college or university; 
  • County;
  • City;
  • Municipal Corporation;
  • Health District;
  • School District;
  • Irrigation District;
  • Special Improvement or Taxing District;
  • Hospital or Nursing Home established by a County or City;
  • Any other State or local governmental entity

There is no "form" that is required for your tort claims notice, but it must include certain information including the conduct and circumstances which brought about the injury; the nature of the injury or damage; the time and place the injury or damage occurred; the names of all persons involved; the amount of damages claimed; the residence of the claimant. 

This is a very important requirement that you may not get right if you rely on your own understanding of the law. If you get this one wrong – you have no case, so get some help. Call a lawyer who has experience with this. I have had to tell that potential client that his right to sue under state law was gone because he had failed to file a proper notice of tort claim, and that was a conversation I will never forget. So get some help.


Continue Reading Injured by an Idaho State, County or City Employee? You Need To File A Tort Claims Notice To Bring A Lawsuit

Just how do you address the court? What does your language tell the judge in that Ada County or Federal Court appearance? Whether you are a lawyer or a defendant, an expert witness or a plaintiff, the way you speak and the things you say can make a difference. Check out this video, it’s hilarious, but sadly true. We seldom speak with the authority or conviction we need to convey in court.Continue Reading Preparing For A Court Appearance – Speak Like You Mean It

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides you with many of your most important tools at trial. It is intended to guarantee a fair trial to every person accused of a crime. Whether you are charged with DUI, a drug crime, a sex offense, fraud, manslaughter or murder, the Sixth Amendment helps us to get you a fair trial.

If you have been charged with a crime, we will be happy to meet with you to explain your Sixth Amendment rights and how they can help us defend you in your particular criminal defense matter.

So what does the Sixth Amendment provide?  It provides you with these essential rights at trial:

You have the right to be tried by an impartial jury.
You must be informed of the nature of the charges against you.
You have the right to confront the witnesses against you.
You have the right to a lawyer.

These basic rights are just the start – for example you don’t want just any lawyer – you want an experienced trial lawyer.

You don’t really want just any jury that might be impartial – you want a lawyer who can use his or her experience to choose jurors most likely to listen to your story, and jurors who will want to help you.

So the Sixth Amendment gives us a framework to defend you, but the key to your defense – your trial and your innocence – is the lawyer you choose.

Before you hire a lawyer who says he or she has the experience you need to face a prosecution – STOP.  Ask that lawyer the five questions we have here.  Then give us a call. For over thirty years we have been providing the best defense in criminal cases in state and federal courts.Continue Reading Just One Tool – Protecting Your Sixth Amendment Rights

Today’s post is authored by Boise lawyer Courtney Peterson. Courtney’s practice focuses on criminal defense and child custody.

What does it take for your simple assault or battery charge to be elevated to a crime of domestic battery or domestic violence? Not much. An act as simple as grabbing your live-in boyfriend or girlfriend by the wrist might be charged as a domestic violence crime. In Idaho, you don’t have to married to someone to be accused of domestic violence. All it takes is evidence that an alleged victim is a “household member.” Aside from a spouse, “household member” can include a former spouse, a person you have a child with regardless of whether you’ve been married or not, or a person who you cohabitate with. If you’re charged with a domestic battery or assault, not only could you be spending more time in jail, but you run the risk of being charged with a felony if this isn’t your first offense. A first offense domestic violence charge, whether a battery or assault, carries up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second charge within 10 years has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine. If you’re charged with a third within 15 years, that’s a felony. You face up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Domestic violence allegations are always treated differently than the average battery or assault. Alleged victims are generally taken at their word, often not interviewed to the extent that an alleged aggressor is. Police automatically assume you’re guilty and will treat you as such. They might cut corners in investigating the incident and you might never get to tell your side of the story. Once you’re charged with a domestic violence act, a judge will immediately issue a No Contact Order against you to protect the alleged victim. Until you get a chance to be heard by the judge, these orders generally prohibit any contact whatsoever. You will likely have to move out of your home until the order is terminated and might be prohibited from seeing your children for a while. 

Police and prosecutors take this charge seriously, and so should you. This is not something you want to fight on your own. You need an attorney with experience who can tell your story. If you’ve been charged, give us a call.


Continue Reading Domestic Battery or Domestic Violence in Idaho – Prosecutors In Ada and Canyon County Treat These As Very Serious

When a police officer goes too far – and uses excessive force – he can be held accountable for the harm he causes. Police officers have a tough job. We rely on them to keep us safe, and most of the time an officer uses force it is justified. Still, if you have been harmed by the actions of a police officer, you may have a case. The officer and his or her agency may be responsible for your damages.

Holding a law enforcement officer accountable is not an easy assignment. The evidence must make it clear that the force used was unreasonable or unnecessary. For example, if an officer used a baton or stun gun on someone who was simply arguing whether he or she had been speeding, a case might be made that the officer had used excessive force.

Here are three things to keep in mind about your potential excessive force claim:

First, a law enforcement officer may use force that is necessary under the circumstances presented. So not every use of force will result in a case.
Second, juries want to believe that law enforcement officers “did the right thing” when confronted with a tough situation. This means that you will likely start at a disadvantage when it comes to credibility, so your choice of a lawyer to handle the case is critical to your possible recovery.
Finally, there are procedural hurdles designed or intended to keep you out of court and to limit your recovery. Do not wait to contact an attorney and review your rights as the passage of time may destroy any opportunity you have to recover.

To safeguard your rights, your lawyers need to build your case expecting to go to trial. This means that we will help you safeguard evidence, document your medical treatment, account for lost wages and employment, and identify and interview witnesses.

If you or a family member have been injured or killed as the result of a confrontation with the police, call us for a free consultation.


Continue Reading Excessive Force Claims Require Action – Get Information About Your Right To Recover For Injuries

The Idaho Statesman may have said it best: "Amil Myshin fought for fairness."

He was simply one of the best lawyers I ever met, and more importantly, one of the nicest men to walk our streets. He inspired. He taught. He fought – boy could he fight.

The news that Amil had passed found me last Tuesday in Challis. I

Continue Reading Boise Criminal Defense Lawyer Amil Myshin Left A Legacy of Substance

In the world of "star justice," Roger Clemens’ trial for lying to Congress started out looking like "must see TV." It quickly fell apart and the court declared a mistrial based on the failure of the prosecutors to play by the rules. Only six days into the trial, and on only the second day of testimony, prosecutors apparently defied a court order and presented prejudicial hearsay testimony the judge had already barred from trial. The judge specifically found that the government’s conduct had placed the case in a posture where Clemens could not get a fair trial from the seated jury. But could he get a fair trial from another jury? Will the government get a second chance to convict the baseball superstar?

Clemens’ defense lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming that Roger cannot get a fair retrial based on the government’s conduct. The motion is 32 pages long and provides some great reading. Others have written about this in far greater detail than I can here, but the general principle to take away from the motion is this – you have a right to a fair trial in every criminal matter. A fair trial may include hard evidence, prejudicial witnesses and physical evidence that strikes a hard blow. Judges preside over criminal case to insure that the blows will be within the bounds of the law and that the parties will play by the rules. When prosecutors do not play by the rules, the court must step in and use its power to insure a fair trial. 

In the Clemens case, the prosecutors permitted hearsay statements made by Clemens’ ex-wife to be played to the jury despite a prior court ruling that prohibited them from doing so. The prosecution team had put together the video clips and transcript that were shown the jury – so even if they did not intend to violate the court’s order, they had a duty to insure that the order was complied with. In other words, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars to prepare for trial, somebody should have reviewed that video and transcript to make certain they did not violate the judge’s order.

After all – this million dollar fiasco is all about personal accountability, isn’t it? 

So now we await the government’s response to the motion. We will follow-up on this as it develops.


Continue Reading Roger Clemens Attorneys File Motion To Dismiss Indictment – Can He Get A Fair Trial?

Have you noticed how many attorney websites are all about the lawyer and pay no attention to the information that people charged with criminal matters are looking for? Most lawyer websites scream: "Hire me! Do it now! You might go to prison if you don’t act within the next hour! Call me now!"

I hate those websites! Instead of providing information, the lawyers using the sites try to scare you into hiring them based on emotion, not information. The truth is you might not even need an attorney to handle your case. So before you sign that retainer agreement, get informed!

This blog is different. There is a ton of free information here for you to review based on your needs. Have a DUI case? Check out the DUI section of the Topics. Have a question about how to value a personal injury or wrongful death case? Look at the Civil Practice section.

The Topics section can lead you to information that you can use to help you become informed on whatever area of law you are interested in. Well, not every area – this blog is really about criminal defense, civil rights and civil trials. With over thirty years of experience in those areas, my goal is to help you become better informed!

And what if the issue you have is not listed in the Topics? Send me a question and I will get back to you. We promise to get you information – then you can make a great decision about whether you need a lawyer and which lawyer you want to hire.


Continue Reading Idaho Criminal Defense Blog Is About Content – Free Information For You On Criminal Defense In Idaho

 I just finished two trials and am headed toward a third, next month. I am also working on this racketeering case in which my client is alleged to have engaged in racketeering activity as part of his membership in a local gang. With motions filing deadline approaching, I spent some time looking at recent cases in the area and this one, US v. Scott, seems spot on, but not so much for the motions issue, rather as judicial involvement in the trial. It is interesting because it illustrates just how much control a federal district judge may exercise over a trial and NOT violate a Defendant’s right to a fair trial. First – my disclaimer – I have never seen any judicial conduct that comes close to this stuff, nor would I expect to. The case is interesting for us as lawyers because it reminds us that there is a long, long journey from what we think is unfair conduct by the judge at trial to a reversal of the case. So read the case – and consider the following from Scott

The judge did not allow the jurors to take notes. No problem says the 9th Circuit. A judge has a lot of discretion with respect to the question of whether jurors can take notes. 

The judge made disparaging comments about the defense lawyer.  No problem says the 9th Circuit, even though it concedes that some of the comments went too far and may have been inconsistent with the standards of judicial decorum. Still, the court says that there was no real prejudice to the defense in view of the evidence. Let me translate: the evidence showed that the defendant was really guilty so no harm, no foul.

The judge gave the defense lawyer nine minutes to review and then object to the proposed instructions. Again, no problem. The proof that there was no prejudice to the defendant was the closing argument itself, which apparently went well. 

The judge did not give a mutual combat or self-defense instruction. No problem here either as the evidence did not raise the issue. Could be – but the only defense available to the defendant (who was charged with stabbing another inmate) was self-defense or mutual combat, so the failure to get enough evidence before the judge and jury really rests with the lawyer. 

The judge apparently asked a lot of questions of the witnesses. No problem here either says the 9th Circuit. Judges have an inherent power to supervise the evidence and even draw attention to important evidence. Still, this almost never happens in courts here.

I was thinking about what this really means in the context of our cases in state and federal court in Idaho.  First, it is a good reminder that we need to be fully prepared to tell our story to the jury with sufficient evidence to raise whatever claim or defense we are asserting. If our defense is self-defense, we need to get the evidence in so that the judge cannot refuse the instruction. Second, we need to be fully prepared to present our case in a way that highlights the evidence so it is remembered. With each witness there must be one key point we want to present. That point must be so memorable that even without notes, the jurors will recall the point. And finally, we are really a lot better off than we sometimes imagine when it comes to the judges we encounter. I can’t even imagine a judge in Ada County or the US District Court refusing to permit notes or trying to take over the case from counsel. 

Want to help your case and your client? A friend of mine says the nicest lawyer in the courtroom usually wins. I think he is right. I’m willing to have the fight with the judge if needed, but it us usually better to not need the fight. 

OK – back to preparation mode. And the same for you and your case.


Continue Reading Getting Ready For Trial? Take A Quick Look At This Recent 9th Circuit Decision