5 episodes

Lessons, strategies, techniques, and discussions related to trial advocacy and mock trial competition. The information provided in the podcast is intended to teach and motivate the practicing trial attorney, mock trial student, or witness. The theme, you can become a legal eagle.

Mock Trial Flight School Brian Bellamy

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Lessons, strategies, techniques, and discussions related to trial advocacy and mock trial competition. The information provided in the podcast is intended to teach and motivate the practicing trial attorney, mock trial student, or witness. The theme, you can become a legal eagle.

    5 - Seven Tips for Preparation of the Witness as a Character

    5 - Seven Tips for Preparation of the Witness as a Character

    Episode 5 - Seven Tips for Preparation of the witness as a character

    This episode expands on Episode 4 - "The job of a mock trial witness" and provides tips to help the witness get ready to succeed in their role.

    Tip # 1

    · Work with the attorney as discussed in episode 4

    Tip # 2

    · Read and memorize the witness statement

    Tip # 3

    · Read and learn the stipulations

    Tip # 4

    · Study exhibits

    Tip # 5

    · Study other witness statements

    Tip # 6

    · Analyze favorable facts and adverse facts before and after the case theory

    Tip # 7

    · Development of a one-sentence personification of the witness character for accountability


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    • 18 min
    4 - The Job of a Mock Trial Witness

    4 - The Job of a Mock Trial Witness

    I. Episode 4 – What is the job of the witness?

    II. First, discussion of the job of a witness includes the attorney

    III. Why the job of the witness includes the attorney

    a. Two minds better than one

    b. Difficult to both memorize facts and think about persuasion and law

    c. Link to case theory

    d. Creativity of character

    e. Strategy for fact-gathering

    f. Attorney input into witness role

    g. Witness input into attorney role

    h. Preparation of objections

    i. Come to rehearsal prepared for effective communication and presentation

    IV. Job of witness

    V. Supply facts in case

    a. From

    i. Witness statement

    ii. Stipulations

    iii. Exhibits


    b. Lay witness

    i. Present from personal knowledge

    c. Expert witness

    i. Present based on qualifications in field

    d. With strategic use of language to support case theory if permissible

    VI. Personify the persona

    a. Become that person (Think method acting!)

    b. the Adopt traits and characteristics of the person

    c. Prepare to add drama and humor

    i. By what words are chosen

    ii. Expansions through testimony

    iii. Emotions

    iv. Attitudes

    v. Gestures

    vi. Positioning

    vii. Expressions

    d. Fill in for attorney

    i. Add details the attorney missed by mistake on direct

    e. Elaborate effectively on less relevant details the attorney might not want to ask about specifically

    1. Important to combine with traits/character

    f. Adapt on cross-examination

    i. Use personality and words to present favorable testimony

    ii. Choose effective answers

    1. I don't know

    2. I can't remember, or

    3. Infer from other facts the witness does not officially know (if reasonable)

    4. Contradictions of the witness statement can be impeached

    g. Prepare with the attorney for Objections

    i. Inferences

    1. Objections such as unfair extrapolation or outside the scope of the mock trial materials

    ii. Hearsay (for important facts to get if possible and for jury to hear)

    1. Reframe when possible as a concrete fact

    a. Instead of “he told me the grass was green

    b. “Do you know what color the grass was?” “Yes.” “What color was the grass?” “The grass was green.”

    c. Work with attorney on laying foundation if possible

    i. Make the opposing attorney recognize the hearsay by knowing where the facts come from.

    ii. Make the opposing attorney do the work of limiting the fact after the jury has already heard it if possible.

    2. Avoid trigger words

    a. He told, I heard, She said

    iii. Brainstorm other possible objections by opposing counsel on direct

    iv. Brainstorm possible objection by your side on cross


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    • 29 min
    3 - Case Theory and Theme - The Foundation for Everything Else in a Trial

    3 - Case Theory and Theme - The Foundation for Everything Else in a Trial

    Mock Trial Flight School

    Episode 3 Case Theory and Theme

    Show Notes

    In this episode, I help the mock trial participant understand the basic building blocks of case theory and theme. A sound case theory forms the foundation for everything else in a trial, particularly the opening statement and closing argument. 

    Most of the discussion in this episode concerns case theory.

    A case theory comprises three interrelated parts:

    · the LEGAL theory, that is the law that entitles you to the relief you are seeking

    · the FACTUAL theory, that is the story or facts that satisfy your legal theory, and

    · the PERSUASIVE theory, that is why you should win as a matter of fairness and justice.

    On the other hand, the case THEME comprises a one-sentence distillation of your case theory that appeals to the jurors’ moral values. The theme might use words to paint a metaphorical picture of the case or may directly appeal to a commonly held belief system. The theme of the O.J. Simpson criminal defense provides a famous example: “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.” This simple theme summarized the defense case theory that the facts did not add up to prove Simpson’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Note: Make sure the theme cannot be flipped by the opposing side. For example, a justice theme might appeal to both the prosecution and the defense in a criminal case.

    Part 1: LEGAL THEORY

    Each side of a case for trial develops a LEGAL theory by doing the necessary legal research to determine all possible laws governing your case. The attorneys pull out the most important legal issues, usually the controverted elements, and incorporates those into the overall case theory. The fact theory should support legal theory.


    The attorney, working with witnesses, develops a FACTUAL theory by determining what happened.

    · The following tools help:

    · Chronologies

    · Proof Charts

    · Identifying facts as opposed to conclusions

    · Thinking about what inferences can be drawn from those facts–both pro and con

    · Identifying hard facts versus soft facts

    · Identifying those factual questions that are in dispute and determining how to develop further information about the disputed facts

    · Thinking about the facts as a story or movie script–what should/would happen in this situation

    · Thinking about why a jury should believe your story and not the other side’s story


    Attorneys developing a PERSUASIVE theory by thinking about what spin can be put on the facts, within the context of the law, that will appeal to our sense of fairness and justice. The persuasive theory should consider the audience (i.e., the Judge or Jury).

    The persuasive theory should correlate with the theme. The attorney may discovery a persuasive theory by brainstorming. I like to use a mind map. For example, put a keyword from the persuasive theory or a key fact in the center circle. Then, link additional circles to one another extending out from the center using free word and concept association. Often this exercise leads to creative and compelling ideas.

    Part 4: A CHECKLIST for developing a CASE THEORY

    Part 5: Passing the GRANDMOTHER TEST

    Can a grandmother understand the one-sentence theme?

    Does the 15-second version of the case theory use simple and powerful language?

    Are the inferences reasonable?

    Is the case theory consistent with common sense?

    Does the case theory square with motives the jury would expect?

    Can a well-organized and persuasive case mitigate the worst facts against the case theory?


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    • 28 min
    2 - Cross Examination Skills Basic Building Blocks

    2 - Cross Examination Skills Basic Building Blocks

    In this episode of Mock Trial Flight School, Brian Bellamy discusses the fundamental building blocks for cross-examination of witnesses in a trial or mock trial setting.

    The discussion covers three critical aspects of a competent witness cross: organization, persuasion, and style.

    1. How to organize the cross-examination persuasively and logically

    arrange around the big points supporting the case theory

    gain admissions of key facts

    avoid repeating direct examination

    2. How to make the cross-examination more persuasive

    limit to points that support your case theory and theme

    limit to questions you know the answer to and avoid fishing

    plan fishing questions carefully so that jury will not notice

    use leading questions only

    don't ask for opinions or conclusions

    ask for one fact at a time

    avoid trivial matters

    use simple language

    ask short questions

    build in bits

    torture key points

    use headlines

    be brief and concise

    3. How to have an exciting and dynamic style

    as an attorney on the cross, you are the STAR - don't give the witness center stage

    maintain eye contact with the decision-maker(s)

    use a dynamic voice and tone appropriate for the facts

    use beneficial gestures

    avoid reading questions, work from an outline - or, preferably, prepare so well that you don't use any notes - especially in a mock trial

    don't be cross (i.e., mean), remember honey attracts more bees.

    Published by Brian Bellamy





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    • 24 min
    1 - Be a Great Mock Trial Witness

    1 - Be a Great Mock Trial Witness

    Episode 1 of Mock Trial Flight School

    In this episode, I discuss witness preparation, cooperation, and teamwork. A great mock trial witness connects deeply to the character and knows the facts and personality of the person from top to bottom. The witness prepares a timeline, analyzes strengths and weakness, and helps the attorney to uncover the key facts during direct examination that best support the case theory. The great witness practices both direct and cross-examination with the mock trial team's attorneys. The successful mock trial witness is a team player that works constantly with the attorney to share, discuss, debate and prepare the case for trial. 

    Show Outline

    How to prepare to be a great witness

    a) Intro

    i) Knowing the witness

    ii) Preparing

    iii) Practicing

    iv) Teamwork

    b) Know the story and personality of your witness

    i) Background

    ii) Behavior

    iii) Personality

    Method Acting - The "system" cultivates what Stanislavski calls the "art of experiencing" (to which he contrasts the "art of representation").[5] It mobilizes behaviors the actor's conscious thought and will in order to activate other, less-controllable psychological processes like emotional experience and subconscious behaviour, sympathetically and indirectly.[6] In rehearsal, the actor searches for inner motives to justify action and the definition of what the character seeks to achieve at any given moment (a "task").

    c) Prepare a timeline for your witness

    i) Know the sequence and order of events/facts

    d) Prepare a list of strengths and weaknesses for your witness

    i) Help the attorneys develop the best case theory

    (1) Best fit

    (2) Strength/weaknesses (facts)

    (3) The character of witnesses in the case

    ii) Know how to answer questions most favorably

    iii) Be prepared for dealing with weaknesses during cross-examination

    e) Help your attorney cover all of the strengths during direct examination

    i) Support your the team's theory of the case

    ii) Avoid gaps in testimony that prove the elements of the case

    f) Practice direct examination

    i) Gain confidence

    ii) Discover weaknesses in knowledge and understanding

    iii) Practice your acting skills

    g) Practice cross-examination

    i) Gain confidence

    ii) Practice giving most favorable testimony

    iii) Practice your acting skills

    h) Teamwork

    i) Do your part

    ii) Know the witness – meet - discuss, share, debate

    iii) Timeline – share, prepare together (both need to know)

    iv) Fact analysis – co-dependent, witness and attorney must share thoughts and analysis

    (a) Case theory – requires witness understanding, collaboration

    v) Practice

    (1) Fun

    (2) While learning the law, analytical skills, and soft skills from speaking, acting, participating in the rigor


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    • 18 min

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