The Legal Ramifications of Poorly Conceived Public Statements

Every day, newspapers and social media deliver fresh examples of poorly conceived and badly executed public statements that impact a legal position. As a result, lawyers and communications professionals who pay attention are being treated to a master class on how uncontrolled and undisciplined public statements can tank a case.

Communication Legal RamificationsThe communications missteps we have witnessed in recent months remind us that what is said in the public record – including on social media – can and will be used against the client in a court of law. The Trump campaign’s Twitter statements were used as evidence against the now-President’s travel ban in litigation. The White House’s statement explaining FBI Director Comey’s firing was undercut by the President’s contradictory statements about his motives, possibly inflaming the case for obstruction of justice.

But Washington is not the only source of examples.

 

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Storytelling is No Substitute for Mastery of the Evidence

A lot of trial lawyers extol the virtues of storytelling when they talk about developing winning strategies. And while I love a good story as much as the next lawyer, jurors are being sold short if your trial strategy relies too heavily on a well-told story alone.

Want to know what really sells? Take a look at the display windows at Neiman Marcus, as an example. If you’ve ever strolled by the high-end department store, you may have noticed these elaborate and beautiful glass-encased displays. The next time you walk by, take a closer look and you’ll see it’s more than just pretty. Those windows are actually well-thought-out tableaus, meticulously designed by artists with an appreciation for subtlety, an attention to detail and a facility for subliminal storytelling. They know their audience and the subject matter they have to present.  Read more

Lessons from the John Wiley Price Trial

I recently observed the John Wiley Price public corruption trial as a commentator for Fox 4 News.  Price, a longtime Dallas County Commissioner, was charged with public corruption, mail fraud and tax fraud. After an eight-week trial and eight days of deliberation, he was acquitted on the public corruption and mail fraud charges and the jury deadlocked on the tax fraud charges.

The government had a lot riding on this case.  The FBI had been investigating Price and some of his business associates since the early 2000s. So, it was educational, as a litigator, to watch such a high-stakes case play out and ultimately unravel under the glare of the public spotlight. Read more

Castañeda Firm Victory for Oilman T. Boone Pickens Ranked Among Top U.S. Verdicts

Pecos, Texas, jury awards over $145 million against Midland and Dallas oil companies 

DALLAS –  Dallas trial attorney Chrysta Castañeda and The Castañeda Firm are being recognized on The National Law Journal’s Top 100 Verdicts of 2016 list after winning a multimillion-dollar oil and gas verdict for legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens and his company, Mesa Petroleum Partners.

The state district court verdict against two Midland oil and gas companies and a Dallas-based operator ranked as the 12th highest in the country, according to the National Law Journal. Read more

Energy firms must shift strategies to meet new challenges

I’m pleased to have recently joined LEVICK Communications as a senior strategist, and to have written a piece on the challenges facing energy firms in Texas for the LEVICK Energy blog.

Fine Tuning Voir Dire

I recently sat through voir dire as a panel member in one of the criminal district courts in Dallas County.  It’s always good to watch other practitioners go about their art; I always learn a lot (or am reminded of what I already know).  To my fellow trial lawyers who read this blog, here are a few reminders: Read more

Should Trial Counsel Speak to the Media?

I’m often asked whether litigation counsel should serve as a media spokespeople when they are handling legal matters of public interest.  As in most things, the answer is “It depends.”  Here are a few key considerations: Read more

Oil Prices are Falling: Get Ready for Litigation

Oil prices are falling and deals are getting scrapped.  As was the case with the last several business cycles, litigation will undoubtedly ensue.  The old-timers refer to this as “drilling at the courthouse.”  Here are five tips for preparing for possible litigation: Read more