Examination and Cross Examination of Key Witnesses, Closing Arguments, and Qualified Immunity
During court cases, the lead plaintiffs often have two roles, as a complaining witness to who was part of incident, and as a witness to losses to the estate. The plaintiff may call lay witnesses who were on the scene and generally corroborate the plaintiff’s version of the evidence. It is assumed that the parties will have worked out the jury instructions and verdict form before closings, but that the trial court will instruct the jury after them. Closing argument is an opportunity for counsel to sum up the evidence, point out the weaknesses in the other side’s evidence, and help the jury decide the case. Structurally, because § 1983 cases most often involve several issues of constitutional and state law, counsel on each side should spend a good deal of the time identifying the legal issues and the evidence supporting those issues. Court gives detailed instruction on clearly established law, and jury is asked a single question whether facts show defendants violated clearly established law which would have been known to a reasonable officer. This white paper reviews these steps of a law enforcement liability case and reviews what happens if a judge grants qualified immunity.
Wayne C. Beyer, Esq.
- Trial lawyer, author, presenter, former federal official and administrative appeals judge
- Lead counsel in over 300 police misconduct and corrections cases, including dozens of jury trials, involving Fourth Amendment excessive force, false arrest, illegal search, fatal shootings, positional asphyxia, cell suicide, pursuits, failure to render medical assistance, failure to protect, First Amendment, malicious prosecution, and wrongful conviction
- Assistant corporation counsel and assistant attorney general for the District of Columbia and outside counsel to New Hampshire’s Property and Liability Insurance Trust
- Presenter at national programs for Georgetown University Law Center, Defense Research Institute, the American Bar Association, the Federal Judicial Center for District and Magistrate Judges, and many webinars
- Author of law review and magazine articles on police misconduct, including the 1,540-page treatise and handbook, “Police Misconduct: A Practitioner’s Guide to Section 1983,” available from Juris Publishing at http://www.jurispub.com/ Bookstore/United-States/Police-Misconduct.html
- Member of New Hampshire and D.C. Bars, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs Association, and Police Executive Research Forum
- Formerly associate and partner at prominent New Hampshire law firms; chief of staff U.S. General Services Administration; and rendered 750 final decisions on employment and labor issues for the executive branch of the United States government as member, chairman, chief judge, U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board and member Federal Labor Relations Authority
- Degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center
- Can be contacted at 603-356-5106 or [email protected]
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