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Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer: Telling the Story of the Family

A concise and comprehensive treatment of juvenile and family court proceedings.
Publisher: NITA

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ISBN: 9781601566973
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Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer: Telling the Story of the Family  was a first of its kind publication and gave lawyers working in child welfare court their first real trial skills book five years ago. Thousands of lawyers became more proficient at trial work because of that seminal publication. Now, the Juvenile Law Society (JLS) has made it even better with Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer: Telling the Story of the Family, Second Edition, by Marvin Ventrell and Patrick Furman.

Trials, effectively presented, are stories—stories of mothers, fathers, children—stories of the family. Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer, Second Edition  teaches you how to present the story of the family from the unique and powerful perspective of each litigant. From nuts and bolts to advanced practice techniques, each trial skill is treated as a mechanism of persuasion.

For the Second Edition, JLS Founder and Director Marvin Ventrell teamed up with his long-time trial skills training partner and highly regarded teacher and trial lawyer, Patrick Furman as co-author. Ventrell and Furman expand the nine essential trial skills of the first edition and have added a new chapter on The Child Witness. From case analysis to opening statement, to witness exam to evidentiary foundations, to objections, to closing argument and professionalism and ethics, Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer, Second Edition  prepares the lawyer for children, parents, and state agencies to go to court.


The Juvenile Law Society [JLS] has made a profound contribution to the field of child welfare law with this succinct and practical book. It really should be required reading for all lawyers appearing in child welfare court. It is an artful blending of the essentials of trial advocacy with the particulars of child welfare court. This book will empower attorneys to provide improved advocacy for children, parents, and agencies . . . and that, in turn, will lead to better judicial outcomes for our most vulnerable children and their families.

                                                                             Jennifer L. Renne, Esq.
                                                                             Director, Capacity Building Center for Courts
                                                                             American Bar Association

Ventrell and JLS always start the analysis at the right place: children’s cases merit the same standards of excellence as do any other cases. In this book, he incorporates the best of traditional trial theory and practice to create a comprehensive “how to” manual for lawyers trying cases involving children and families. This book will benefit all lawyers, from novices to experienced litigators.

                                                                           Richard Cozzola, Esq.
                                                                           Supervisory Attorney
                                                                           Children's Law Project
                                                                           Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago

Children and families deserve the best that advocates have to offer—and no one knows better than the staff of JLS how to teach those advocates how to practice their craft. This book conveys meaningful and practical knowledge on how to effectively represent clients who are often the most vulnerable people in the courtroom. I’ve had the honor of teaching with JLS Director Ventrell for many years; this book sets out on the printed page the knowledge and passion that he conveys in person. It’s a masterpiece on the art of child advocacy by a master of the art.

                                                                          Hon. Robert McGahey
                                                                          District Court Trial Judge
                                                                          Denver County Colorado                                           

Authors / Contributors

Table of Contents


Foreword to the First Edition
Foreword to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition

Chapter One. Case Analysis: Telling the Story of the Family
1.1  Overview
1.2  The Story of the Family
1.3  The Legal Framework of a Child Welfare Case
1.4  Case Theory, Theme, and Story Touchstones
1.5  Case Analysis Tools
1.6  Getting Started

Chapter Two. Closing Argument: The Story of the Case
2.1  Overview
2.2  Preparing Closing Argument
2.3  Giving a Closing Argument
2.4  The "Don'ts" of Closing
2.5  Objections during Closing Argument

Chapter Three. Direct Examination: The Words of the Story
3.2  Preparing Direct Examination
3.3  Conducting Direct Examination

Chapter Four. Cross-Examination: Minimizing and Marginalizing Impact
4.1  Overview
4.2  Preparing Cross-Examination
4.3  Conducting Cross-Examination

Chapter Five. Expert Witness Examination: Moving from Perception to Opinion and Belief
5.1  Overview
5.2  Preparing for Expert Witness Testimony
5.3  Conducting Expert Witness Direct Examination
5.4  Expert Witness Cross-Examination

Chapter Six. Difficult Witnesses: Managing the Challenge
6.1  Overview
6.2  Preparing for Dif. cult Witnesses
6.3  Good Questions Get Good Answers
6.4  Examining Dif. cult Witnesses
6.5  Impeachment

Chapter Seven. The Child Witness: Altering the Rules
7.1  Overview
7.2  Child Development
7.3  Five Basic Acknowledgements
7.4  Psychological Issues with a Child Witness
7.5  Direct Examination of a Child Witness
7.6 Cross-Examining a Child Witness
7.7  Other Sources

Chapter Eight. Exhibits and Their Foundations: Picture This!
8.1  Overview
8.2  The Generic Foundation for Exhibits
8.3  The Specific Foundation for Exhibits
8.4  Offering the Exhibit
8.5  Selected Child Welfare Exhibit Foundations
8.6  Hearsay and Best Evidence Issues for Documentary Exhibits
8.7  Miscellaneous Tips

Chapter Nine. Making and Meeting Objections: Enforcing the Rules of the Trial
9.1  Overview
9.2  When and How to Object
9.3  How to Respond
9.4  Resolving the Objection
9.5  Dealing with the Ruling
9.6  Specific Objections
9.7  Objections during Opening Statement and Closing Argument
9.8  Some Final Thoughts

Chapter Ten. Opening Statement: Imprinting The Story
10.1  Overview
10.2  Preparing Opening Statement
10.3  Anticipating the Opposing Case
10.4  Writing It Out
10.5  Giving an Opening Statement

Chapter Eleven. Ethics And Professionalism: Integrity in the Courtroom
11.1  Overview
11.2  Codes of Ethics
11.3  Selected Child Welfare Courtroom Ethics Issues
11.4  A Final Word on Professionalism