Pre-requisites/Co-requisites
Evidence Law

Note: The Quercus program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Quercus as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

This course will meet remotely two times a week, via audio-visual conference.  At the option of the instructors, some lectures may be held in person at the law school. To enrol in this course, all students must meet or exceed the tech requirements for enrolment in University of Toronto courses, which can be found here [https://www.viceprovoststudents.utoronto.ca/students/tech-requirements-online-learning/]

Note: Students who enrol in Trial Advocacy are advised that no class is scheduled on Tuesday, September 8. The first class will be held on Thursday, September 10, 2020.

Because of the intensive nature of the course, attendance is mandatory. This includes mandatory preparation for, attendance at, and participation in, the first session of the course (Thursday, September 10th, 2020).  Mandatory attendance is waived only with the approval of the Assistant Dean, JD Program.  Students on the waitlist must attend all classes, and will be penalized for classes missed during the add/drop period in the same way they are during the rest of the term.

Structure of the Course:
The course is organized around 1 ½ hour plenary (lecture) sessions on Thursdays.  On the next following Tuesday, there is a 2 hour participation workshop. The workshops will take place via audio-visual conference in small groups and are led by experienced trial lawyers who are part of the teaching faculty in the course.  The Thursday plenary sessions are led by faculty and special guests and are designed to deliver the fundamentals of the skills needed to perform specific trial tasks (such as examination in chief, cross examination, closing argument, etc.) in the subsequent two-hour workshops. The plenary sessions may include both live and recorded demonstrations and, where appropriate, interactive exercises in the plenary setting. Please note that while some of the Thursday evening plenary sessions will take place on campus, some or all may be held via audio-visual conference.

Final Trials -- The course culminates in teams of students conducting a Final Trial before a judge and possibly a jury. The trials will be conducted on a virtual (remote) platform. In 2020, the final trials will be held on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.   

IMPORTANT NOTE – the final trials may start earlier and end later than the scheduled time for the workshop. – Students will be expected to be available by no later than 6 p.m.  and in some cases the trial may not end until 9:00 p.m. on that day.  

Skills taught -- This course facilitates the development of the skills necessary to conduct a jury or non-jury trial or hearing. It is structured so that each student can develop a personal style of advocacy that is effective and appropriate for the individual student.

In 2020, the Trial Advocacy course will focus on developing skills in the delivery of advocacy on a virtual platform.  This is in keeping with the reforms that are currently underway in our justice system, which is working toward a virtual end-to-end delivery of justice.  The course will incorporate the recently developed best practises for remote advocacy, and will be modelled so as to incorporate as many of the developing changes to the justice system as possible. 

Students begin by learning and doing basic trial advocacy skills (examination in chief and cross examination).  Students then progress to learn how to the use of exhibits (especially important with the use of screen sharing skills), how to properly impeach witnesses (also using screen sharing effectively) opening statement and closing argument (all with visual aids) within a virtual courtroom.  Students will also develop skills in making objections and analysis and strategy in trial planning. For some classes, the witnesses will be “real life counterparts” such as police officers.  Midway through the course, students will conduct a “mini-trial” in their small groups.

Evaluation
This course is graded as Credit/No Credit. For internal purposes and to track performance and skills development, the instructors will grade the students’ performances in each workshop out of 10. If there is more than one assessed exercise performed during a workshop, the average out of 10 will be recorded. The total of all workshops will equal 80% of the final grade. The lowest workshop grade will be dropped; and the others will be averaged. The Final Trials are worth 20%. Workshop assignments will be posted to Quercus at least one week before each workshop. Each assignment will include a written component. The assignment will contain the readings pertaining to the next skill to be learned, and a description of the tasks you must prepare and then perform at the coming workshop. The written component will not be graded and can be in point form, but submission of work is mandatory. The written copy of the assignment must be emailed before 6 pm on the day of the Tuesday workshop to assignments.law@utoronto.ca. Please note that failure to attend a workshop or to hand in your preparation without an authorized absence will result in a no credit for the course regardless of the grade received until that point in the course.
Academic year
2020 - 2021

At a Glance

First Term
Credits
4
Hours
4

Enrolment

Maximum
32

32 JD

Schedule

T: 6:10 - 8:00 pm (AV Conference)
Th: 6:10 - 7:30 pm (AV Conference)