Monday, July 10, 2006

Motion in Limine Subject - Hiring of Counsel by Plaintiff

I advertise to generate cases as part of my law practice. Because of that I and my client are faced with questions throughout the process regarding advertising - my client is usually asked about the method and manner of my hire, treating doctors may get a question or two, the spouse may be asked questions as well. Of course, those questions never work both ways, mind you.

In nearly every single Plaintiff's deposition I attend, an attorney for a defendant will ask questions that refer to the timing of the hiring of counsel (me) by the deponent/plaintff. Why is this done you ask? Who knows? To intimidate, to see my reaction, to try to create a theme that guys like me add to the so-called "litigation crisis."

While I will object to this line of questioning and go so far as to instruct the Plaintiff not to answer, I have started filing a subject specific Motion in Limine early in a case. Taking early action seems to be helping. In the last dozen depositions no questions on that subject were asked if I first filed a MIL. Here is the content of it:

Motion in Limine: Hiring of Counsel by Plaintiff

[I have a multi-part M.I.L., and have just added this paragraph to it, or use alone]:

# __ . That defense counsel be prohibited from asking any questions relating to when, how or why Plaintiff hired counsel, and that Defendant or any witness interrogated by Defendant's counsel not insinuate, interrogate, testify or argue pertaining to any matter related to the time or circumstances under which the Plaintiff employed attorneys in this case. See Carlye v Lai, 783 S.W 2d 925, 929 (Mo.App 1989), which held:

Accessing the legal system is normally not to be discouraged
and exercising one's right to utilize the legal system within the
rules and procedures should normally not be used to attempt to
discredit a litigant with the jury. The right to seek the advice of
counsel risks reversal when attempting to discredit a litigant
cross-examining him about the time and circumstances of his
having consulted an attorney to discuss his legal rights.

See also, Travis vs. Vandergriff, 384 S.W.2d 936, 938 (Tex. App. 1964) and Martinez vs. Williams, 312 S.W.2d 742, 752 (Tex. App. 1958).

Use it as you own, just tell me if it works.