Monday, August 4, 2014

Pre-trial Conference

Pre-trial conferences are starting to catch on in state court in Mississippi.  This is routinely done in federal court but has only recently began to be more common in circuit court.  I have found that it greatly assists the parties and the court in a case.  Many of the judges are likewise requiring the parties to do a pretrial order containing witness lists and any stipulations that the parties have.  This helps to cut down on some of the defense attorney gamesmanship I have seen parties attempt in the past.  Unfortunately, I have seen situations where a defense attorney who does not contest liability will start contesting it at trial because no stipulation was entered.  My personal favorite is where a defense attorney had his client not come to court and then tried to say that the Plaintiff could not prove it was his client driving.  The Plaintiff could not identify the Defendant since she was not present and the officer was not subpoenaed because no one was contesting liability.  Issues like this are what make me paranoid.  I have started doing stipulations even on contested cases many times that are often as simple as the stating the parties were in a accident in which each one was the driver along with where the accident occurred.  This establishes the parties identify, jurisdiction, and venue at the start. 

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