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MAGNA-FYI
December 2014: Conference Edition
Chopped Mock Trial Challenge
Golden Nugget, Atlantic City, NJ
Download the full PDF
Download the full PDF
Save the Date: May 8 & 9, 2014: Ritz Carlton Beach Resort
Save the Date: May 8 & 9, 2014: Ritz Carlton Beach Resort
Magna LegalVision
Jury Scout
Magna Online Office
Magna Legal Services
Magna-Fy Staff
Peter Hecht
Editor-In-Chief
Bonnie Schmonsees
Designer
Back Issues
Contents
Editor's Note
Interview with Richard Fabian
Interview with Mark Calzaretta
Interview with Kelly Waters
Interview with Daniel Shapiro
Putting the Clue in CLE
Interview with Ted Schaer
Interview with Stuart Miller
CHOPPED Mock Trial Challenge Photo Gallery
Editor's Note
Peter Hecht
Friends of Magna LS,

It is hard to believe we are closing out another year. It seems like 2007 was yesterday, when we first formed Magna Legal Services out of a friend's conference room with only a box of office supplies. This February we will be celebrating eight fantastic years of being in business. From the first day, Magna was an independent, self-funded firm, that is now considered one of the most reliable and established litigation consulting companies in the world. Reaching these heights would not have been possible without our team of employees. Today we have over 100 employees from coast to coast, providing the very best in litigation support and consulting services. Their hard work has resulted in a 98% client satisfaction rate. On top of that, we have been selected by the readers of The National Law Journal, New York Law Journal and The Legal Intelligencer as "The Best Of" in the following categories: Jury Consultants, Online Jury Research, Demonstrative Evidence, Court Reporting/Depositions, Hot Seat Technician, Trial Consultants, End to End Consulting Firm, Litigation Consulting, Consulting & Outsourcing and Trial Technology.

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Interview with Richard Fabian
Richard Fabian
These days, Richard Fabian is too busy resolving realworld insurance disputes to read many legal thrillers or mystery novels. Yet if the whodunit case he dreamed up for Magna's second annual mock trial Chopped competition in Atlantic City is any indication, the man certainly knows how to weave a good crime tale.

"It's safe to say the case was pretty much a creature of my imagination," Fabian said, who conceived the wrongful death lawsuit filed by a millionaire's bereaved son against his stepmother while holding down a day job as General Counsel, Director of Litigation and Senior Vice President at The RiverStone Group in Manchester, New Hampshire.

"I did a lot of thinking to come up with something that was entertaining and had an interesting storyline," Fabian said. "But the main goal was to make it ambiguous and balanced so that either side could win."

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The Jury Whisperer: Interview with Mark Calzaretta
Mark Calzaretta
Play guitar and study psychology: Know your audience with Mark Calzaretta, Magna cofounder and director of litigation consulting

Q. How does your background in psychology play into the work you do for Magna on jury research and juror persuasion?

A. My psychology background first led me to trial consulting: assisting attorneys with graphics and evidence presentation. Trial consulting segued into jury consulting and things such as mock trials, shadow juries and jury selection. It was a natural progression for me. As a jury consultant, psychology helps me figure out which themes will resonate with juries, what evidence to present, which aspects of the case to focus on and which to avoid. A lot of that can be determined through pre-trial jury research via focus groups and mock trials. We wind up testing theories with jurors the same way you would test a product with a focus group, to see how people respond.

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Interview with Kelly Waters
Kelly Waters
Q. Magna is proud of its mock trial competition for offering a more engaging alternative to standard CLE classes. Would you agree, and what part of the competition did you enjoy most?

A. This was much more engaging than your typical CLE—people weren't lectured to, they were taught by example. One colleague told me that he brought all this work with him to do at the conference but he didn't get any done because he was so engaged in the CHOPPED event!

This was also one of the best personal growth experiences I've had. When you're at trial and your client's not there observing, you check in with them at the end of the day and they want to know how it went. Here, the emphasis was on how we performed as trial attorneys, and our clients got to see that.

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Interview with Daniel Shapiro
Daniel Shapiro
Q. Magna is proud of its mock trial competition for offering a more engaging alternative to standard CLE classes. Would you agree, and if so what part of the competition did you enjoy most?

A. I thought that the audience was fully engaged, and that was great. I even mentioned to my partners how nice it was that everyone stuck around for the whole competition instead of heading for the exits. Typically at these CLE events, after lunch on the second day, people have gotten their credits and they move on. At this event, everyone who was there in the morning was back in the afternoon.

Q. In your opening statement you represented the defendant, a woman who killed her husband—perhaps during a physical altercation—and is now working to get access to part of his fortune even though his son has filed a lawsuit to prevent that from happening. What was the hardest part of arguing her case? What was easiest part?

A. She had a difficult case because apparently she was behind him when she delivered the fatal blow with the candlestick, and yet she was claiming self-defense. If she was behind him and felt threatened, why didn't she just leave the library? She'd already removed herself from the situation once earlier in the evening, and she knew her husband was intoxicated.

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Putting the Clue in CLE with a Dash of Reality TV
Clue in CLE
From the moment 72-year-old Colonel Reginald P. Mustard was found dead and bloodied in the library of his wellappointed Massachusetts summer home, the questions began swirling.

It was clear that the Colonel's second wife, then 36-year-old Cynthia Mustard-Russell, had killed the man - she'd admitted as much. But why? When she dealt the Colonel that fatal blow with a leaden candlestick, was she a serially battered woman fighting to defend her life, or a conniving gold digger eager for a piece of her husband's ample estate?

The Colonel's son, 49-year-old Atherton Mustard, later sued to prevent his stepmother, Cynthia, from claiming her half of the $300 million estate. But was he a loyal heir protecting has father's fortune or a jilted lover, embittered because Cynthia had married his father instead of him?

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Interview with Ted Schaer
Ted Schaer
Q Magna is proud of its mock trial competition for offering a more engaging alternative to standard CLE classes. Would you agree, and what part of the competition did you enjoy most?

A. I think it's probably the most creative CLE in the business right now. The typical CLE is eight presenters holding forth on relevant but boring topics. The mock trial is dynamic and theatrical. It's a fresh format that allows clients practical insight into what their counsel is like in action. Many of our clients deal with us through computer and phone - rarely do they get to see us in the heat of battle in a simulated courtroom setting. It's also interesting from a lawyer's erspective, since lawyers rarely get to see their fellow counsel trying cases.

Q. You represented both the plaintiff and the defendant in this case—which side was harder to argue, and why?

A. I think the defendant's position was the most difficult in the case because the physical evidence suggested that self-defense wasn't a cogent argument for her. The defendant claimed that she acted in self-defense, but part of the evidence was a medical examiner's report stating that after the first blow the victim was incapacitated. That makes it unlikely that the defendant felt the threat of death or serious bodily injury when she struck the second blow, which killed the victim.

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Interview with Stuart Miller
Stuart Miller
Q. Magna is proud of its mock trial competition for offering a more engaging alternative to standard CLE classes. Would you agree, and what part of the competition did you enjoy most?

A. Simulating a real trial environment – the pitfalls, the hazards – is not easy. But Magna did that. This wasn't theory, it was practice. In fact, I felt as much, if not more, pressure than I would have in a normal courtroom because we were in front of our competition, current clients and prospective clients. In other words, I was in front of my industry standing in my underwear!

Q. In your opening statement you represented the plaintiff, the son of a murdered man who was suing to prevent his stepmother – his father's second wife - from getting access to his father's fortune. What was the hardest part of arguing your case? What was easiest part?

A. I had to deal with the sympathy factor associated with a victim of domestic violence, as the defendant was. She became empowered as a survivor of domestic violence, but I didn't want that to drive this case, so in my opening I acknowledged that she was a strong person who was able to overcome obstacles, but I also argued that somewhere along the way her judgment got clouded.

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