Pretrial Activities Checklist Template

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In this 2x2 matrix template breaks the pretrial activities into three phases: start of preparation to sixty days before the trial, between sixty and thirty days prior to the trial and thirty days before the trial. Tasks that belong in these phases belong in Quadrants one, two and three, respectively. Quadrant four is set aside for the trial notebook, that is, all the resources that pretrial activities will have created. Of course, deadlines and the timeline of a trial are, in many ways, out of control of those preparing for the case. However, a strong framework like this template helps maintain organization despite adverse scenarios.

Pretrial Activities Checklist for Priority Matrix

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Pretrial Activities Checklist in Priority Matrix

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Proposed Tasks

Complete 60 Days Before Trial

  • 1. Issues narrowed by dispositive motion
  • 10. All witnesses and subject matter of their testimony identified
  • 14. Legal research list prepared
  • 7. We have outlined what we must prove and determined how we plan to prove it
  • 6. All opponent’s discovery reviewed and determination made about whether motions to compel should be filed
  • 4. All of our discovery reviewed and supplemented as necessary
  • 3. Opponent’s experts identified, complete Rule 26 responses received and, if possible and necessary, experts have been deposed
  • 5. Request for supplementation of opponent’s discovery sent out
  • 8. All medical expenses are either proven, stipulated, or subject of admitted requests to admit.
  • 2. Our experts identified and Rule 26 responses served
  • 18. Decisions made as to case themes and style of presentation
  • 9. Future medicals (if any) have been proven sufficiently (or proof is scheduled for trial)
  • 11. All potential exhibits identified and means of admission determined (expensive exhibits may not be prepared at this point but we should know what we will need)
  • 12. Affidavits have been obtained to meet requirements of business records exception or we are prepared to subpoena records and/or custodian
  • 13. All depositions for proof have been taken or are scheduled
  • 15. Potential motions in limine identified (both from us and against us)
  • 17. Decision made regarding focus group and, if needed, it has been conducted or is scheduled.
  • 16. Identify objectionable portions of depositions for proof
  • 19. Trial notebook prepared.
  • 20. Witness and/or issue notebooks prepared
  • 21. Calendar prepared for all deadlines (after consulting scheduling order, local rules, judges’ rules)
  • 22. Experts and witnesses have been informed of trial date and cleared of conflicts
  • 23. Court reporter booked.

To Do List for 60-30 Days Before Trial

  • 2. Research and draft trial brief
  • 5. Research and draft bench briefs
  • 3. Draft Findings and conclusions
  • 16. Prepare jury instructions and verdict form
  • 12. Continue to update calendar with deadlines.
  • 7. Prepare remaining exhibits
  • 1.Draft and file motions in limine and responses thereto (including objections to depositions)
  • 11. Trial, witness and issue notebooks supplemented as necessary.
  • 14. Outline opening, closing, and witness exams
  • 8. Conduct focus group, if not already
  • 10. Make decisions about order of proof. NOTES: 4
  • 9. Refine decisions regarding themes and style for case presentation
  • 4. Try to reach agreement of stipulations
  • 15. Make video clips for impeachment and other uses at trial
  • 13. Outline voir dire
  • 6. Complete any remaining depositions for proof

To Do List for Last 30 Days

  • 1. Disclose witnesses and exhibits to opponents
  • 12. File trial brief
  • 9. Organize, copy, pre-mark (where permitted) exhibits
  • 5. Issue subpoenas for witnesses
  • 3. Submit any objections to the opponent’s use of video depositions at trial
  • 8. Confirm court reporter for trial
  • 4. Obtain daytime telephone numbers from all witnesses so that you may contact them during trial
  • 6. Schedule, meet with and prepare witnesses.
  • 14. Get jury pool list.
  • 10. Edit video depositions for use at trial
  • 2. Disclose intent to use any video depositions at trial
  • 11. Argue motions in limine (if not already completed)
  • 7. Confirm equipment for trial
  • 13. File jury instructions and verdict form

Contents of Trial Notebook

  • 15. Court Error List
    A separate, defined space to write down rulings by the court that you think may be error to help you prepare a motion for new trial (if necessary).
  • 11. Voir Dire
  • 1. Questions to ask at pre-trial conference
    1. How does the court handle jury selection? 2. Does the court have any time limitations on opening statements, closing arguments, etc.? 3. What daily schedule does the court intend to follow? Does any commitment of the judge or other counsel impact the normal schedule? 4. What equipment is available …
  • 5. Exhibits
  • 4. Key pleadings
  • 8. Witness Exams
    (Consider separate notebooks for each witness in significant cases.) a. To Do list b. Outline of examination c. Deposition of witness and exhibits d. Other documents and things related to witness
  • 12. Jury Instructions
  • 13. Verdict Form
  • 14. Proof Checklist
  • 7. Closing Notes
  • 10. Bench briefs
  • 9. Witness and Exhibit Lists
  • 2. Witness list with contact phone numbers
  • 6. Opening Notes
  • 3. To Do list