Program Archive

Date: April 13, 2011
Title/Topic: "A Murky Mediation"
Description: The basic program for the entire Inn for the year was a disastrous oil spill in the Delaware River. Various claims and problems arising from the spill were addressed throughout the year by the different teams. Team five presented this program on mediation of one of the claims. The presentation was designed to use up to sixteen participants, but can be done with substantially fewer. All Inn membership ‘levels’ can be used, and no role requires a specific level. Older members may be more effective at portraying certain characters.


Date: March 8, 2011
Title/Topic: "Damage Control Personal Injury Damages Claims: Considerations for the Defense"

Description: The program focused on a defense team’s strategy to counter personal injury damages claims. It addressed a variety of tactics, such as not directly addressing the issue of damages in a personal injury claim, as well as the possibility of bifurcating the trial. The issue of how to defend against loss of consortium damages was also presented, emphasizing the importance of asking the spouse a broad set of questions to chip away at derivative damages claims. Hypothetical dispositions were presented to show how it can be effective. The program also addressed how to defend against punitive damages. It discussed the extent a jury can consider harm the defendant caused to non-parties in assessing such damages. It also presented the issue of using a “bad conduct” expert to asses the defendant’s relevant conduct. Moreover, the effectiveness of expert testimony was addressed. To illustrate the importance of this, a medical doctor was a guest expert witness during a trial preparation.


Date: February 8, 2011
Title/Topic: "Claims for Damages in a Personal Injury Action - A Plaintiff's Perspective"
Description: Utilizing a common fact pattern, the program focused on a variety of legal issues involved in the presentation of the plaintiff’s evidence in a personal injury action, as well as some of the practical problems that can arise based on the facts of the case and the circumstances of the plaintiff in question. The issue of Medicare set-asides was also addressed. In addition to the Medicare issues, particular focus was placed on the recovery of medical expenses, lost income, and damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.


Date: January 25, 2011
Title/Topic: "Proof of Damages in a Commercial Case"

Description: As part of the Villanova Inn of Court’s 2010-2011 theme of exploring proof of damages, this program explored the proof of damages in a commercial case. Using a fictional collision of an oil tanker with Pier 34 in Philadelphia, the program examined how plaintiff Larry Moore, proprietor of a restaurant which suffered extensive damage in the collision, would prove damages in his case seeking to recover damages to his restaurant and lost profits from Big Oil Company, the operator of the tanker. The program examined a variety of issues including the use of a compilation to prove damages where there are a large number of invoices, and issues regarding proof of lost profits. Approximately 1/3 of the presentation was reserved for a round-table discussion with an accounting expert and a business valuation expert, who discussed factors that go into valuing a business’s lost profits, the use of tax returns in proof of damages in commercial cases, and suggestions for defendants seeking to attack claims of lost profits.


Date: November 9, 2010
Title/Topic: "Gilligan's Island Revisited: At Sea on Liability, So It's All About the Ocean of Damages"

Description: Based on a common fact pattern used for every Villanova Inn of Court Program, this program presented the importance of damages dictating the extent of defendant’s liability. The program focused on a government agency and U.S. Attorney’s Office meeting to discuss the various claims against the potential defendant. It discussed which of several statutes it would be best to bring charges under and what must be establish under each statute. Moreover, it presented the government’s access to whistleblowers and whether a particular whistleblower is credible. Furthermore, the program depicted a meeting between the potential corporate defendant and its attorneys, discussing liability and damages. It presented claims that could be brought in addition to the government’s claims, including personal injury claims, commercial claims, and debarment. It presented settlement options, showing how the settlement figure was determined. Finally, the program presented the consent decree between the two parties, highlighting the importance of getting the Court to approve the joint motion.


Date: October 12, 2010
Title/Topic: "Senate Confirmation Proceedings of Supreme Court Nominees: So What's the Point?"

Description: This joint meeting, co-hosted by the Temple American Inn of Court, featured Senator Arlen Specter, the five-term senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The program focused on how a Supreme Court nominee’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee has evolved over the last 30 years. The audience was given the chance to ask Senator Specter questions about his experience on the Judiciary Committee and the proposed legislation regarding the role courts play in the United States, including cameras in the court room.


Date: May 11, 2010 (Previously Scheduled for February 9, 2010)
Title/Topic: "Technology and the Law: A Tale of Trials and Tribulations"

Description: The program examined the use of technology in various settings within the legal profession. The topic of evolving courtroom technology was addressed, specifically how electronic courtrooms can shape evidentiary concerns. On the topic of education, articles were presented that reported a number of universities and professors banning laptops from classrooms because of the distraction they can pose to students as well as the presence of laptops being a damper on classroom discussion.


Date: April 13, 2010
Title/Topic: "Law, Technology & Life"

Description: The program looked at the numerous issues that arise in the legal world as a result of advancements in technology. The main focus was the expanding number of people on Facebook and how the website can create ethical dilemmas as well as the question of whether privacy can exist in cyberspace.


Date: March 9, 2010
Title/Topic: "Be Careful Where You Snoop!"

Description: This program explored the question of the lawfulness of people who were not originally parties to certain electronic communications looking at those communications – i.e., when can you look at other people’s communications, what type of communications can you look at and when can you do so. The focus was on particular federal and state laws applicable to snooping into other people’s stuff or trying to interfere with other’s communications. Finally, the program took a different tack in the final two acts of role play in terms of looking at criminal implications of violating some of these federal statutes geared specifically towards electronic communications and Fourth Amendment issues that may arise in the context of looking at other people’s stuff.


Date: January 12, 2010
Title/Topic: "Facebark! The Dog Eat Dog World of Electronic Lawyering"

Description: This program covered a variety of ways that a lawyer might create ethical issues through various forms of electronic communication. The script had several different attorneys and a judge communicating through (1) posts on Facebook; (2) “friending” an adversary on Facebook; (3) sending an instant message; (4) tweeting; (5) using “Rate the Judge” websites; and (6) using listserves and mass email. Following each scene, software was used that allowed all Inn members to vote on whether the attorney’s conduct was unethical and at the end, there was a discussion about that issues that were most controversial.


Date: November 10, 2009
Title/Topic: "What Would Emily Post? Blogs, Facebook and Twitter, Oh My!"

Description: This program illustrated some of the issues lawyers should think about when using social networking sites, blogs and other internet tools in their practice. Many of the issues are not at all unique to the electronic and internet age, but the incredible speed of the internet, its ability to disseminate information to so many people, and the way people have become accustomed to using non-private fora to communicate private information, resulting in unique applications of familiar ethical dilemmas. The characters and script built upon the Inn's year-long problem, with some additions for the particular scenario. The hypothetical law firm wanted to market a specialized practice area, so a young associate was assigned to build and maintain a blog describing the firm's expertise, allowing for the exploration of ethical issues relating to advertising and statements to the public in the context of the internet. The blog and use of internet investigation tools were used to explore ethical issues relating to communication about a client's case, how one represents/misrepresents oneself on the web and general principles about lawyer competence. Other issues were explored relating to creation and preservation of internet-based information/evidence. There was a judge included in the scenario, allowing for the discussion of the pros and cons of lawyers and judges being members of social networking sites and how they use them, and the duty of candor to the tribunal. The federal district court has had recent experience with the problem of jurors posting twitter and other web posts during trials, so this issue was explored as well. One of the court's electronic courtrooms was used for the presentation and the audience was invited to sit anywhere near one of the large screens or in the jury box which contained individual jurors screens, which also served the purpose of educating the lawyers about the tools available in the courtroom. Facebook and LinkedIn pages and a Twitter account were created for the hypothetical characters, so the audience saw all of the web pages in action.


Date: October 14, 2009
Title/Topic: Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia
Description: This joint meeting, co-hosted by the Temple American Inn of Court, featured Union League Historian James Mundy who presented a lecture on Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia. Mr. Mundy also included notes on Lincoln and the law.


Date: April 14, 2009
Title/Topic: "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall"
Description: The program examined difficult 3rd parties, both expected and unexpected, which influence the litigation of a case. The litigation of a tort case arising out of a surrogacy arrangement that went awry was the basis of the plot line. An additional focus was on the difficulties that arise in representing a client where values are concerned, both the lawyers’ and the client’s.


Date: March 10, 2009
Title/Topic: "The Problem Judge"
Description: The program explored the challenges of appearing before a difficult judge. The issues of bias and recusal were front and center as the hypothetical law firm represented a rapper. The client, Kid Vile Villanova, sold millions of records and downloads that include the use of offensive language. Villanova University brought an injunctive action and a suit for money damages for wrongfully profiting from the university’s name and damaging the university’s reputation. The judge assigned to the case disliked rap and the client, and his bias becomes evident. The firm discussed the issues of judicial bias with the client and ultimately moved for the judge to recuse himself.


Date: February 10, 2009
Title/Topic: "Attorneys Say the Darndest Things"
Description: This program featured a monthly meeting of law firm partners who review how their associates handled challenging circumstances and adversaries at depositions. Following each scene showing the conduct of the Difficult Adversary (DA) and the partners review what newer lawyers need to understand in developing their skills in professional conduct, code of civility, rules of civil procedure relating to dispositions and discovery. These discussions would include comments from the entire Inn.


Date: January 13, 2009
Title/Topic: "The Problem Partner"
Description: Rather than focus on personal issues, the point of this program was to show how the practice had changed over the years and attempt to provide context to what younger lawyers might see as a very difficult legal environment. By providing context, the hope was that younger lawyers might come away with a greater understanding of an older lawyer’s perspective as well as some tools to use to handle difficult professional situations. The program was moderated and discussion was encouraged between skits to elicit questions from younger practitioners as well as advice and counsel from those who were a bit older.


Date: November 11, 2008
Title/Topic: "The Difficult Client"
Description: The program focused on the problem of a powerful client exerting pressure on a firm to take certain steps – including structuring of fees, choice of associates, asserting questionable legal theories and obstructing a deposition – to present a firm’s lawyers with dilemmas to discuss and resolve. The Second Amendment case D.C. v. Heller was used for some of the scenarios, both to discuss the holding and also as a springboard for legal issues the client wanted to pursue. After each scene, a member of the audience answered a brief questionnaire as to how he/she would resolve the dilemma. Members of the team collected and collated the responses. In the final scene, the firm’s founding and managing partners discussed the ethical rules and caselaw applicable to each scenario, and reported the results of the questionnaires.


Date: October 15, 2008
Title/Topic: "Representation at Guantanamo"
Description: This joint meeting, co-hosted by the Temple American Inn of Court, the Defuria Inn of Court and the Brandeis Law Society, featured Major David J. R. Frakt, a Pentagon-appointed military attorney who had been defending a detainee. Major Frakt spoke on the dilemma of representing an alleged terrorist and its affect on him as a member of the Air Force. He also touched on the fact that he is a Jewish attorney representing a Muslim defendant.


Date: May 13, 2008 ( Previously Scheduled for February 12, 2008)
Title/Topic: "Truth or Consequences: An Inside Look at the Process of Attorney Discipline."

Description: This program examined some of the ethical considerations surrounding the conduct of a District Attorney who pressures a witness to give false testimony and tampers with evidence. The conversation between the District Attorney and the witness happens to be overheard by an attorney. This attorney then acts on her obligation to report attorney misconduct.

The program examined how this misconduct might be handled by the committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court charged with enforcing the Rules of Professional Conduct. The script included the witness-attorney's initial conversation with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and then walks through the procedure from the complaint through suspension of the District Attorney's license to practice law. The program also looked at the relationship between state and federal disciplinary action, ending with a reinstatement proceeding before a panel of federal judges.


Date: April 8, 2008
Title/Topic: "Restraints on Judicial Campaign Speech: 'Promises Promises - or- It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It"

Description: The program explored restraints on the speech of candidates for judicial office in Pennsylvania. In the system of government, it is important that judges maintain their independence and that the public have trust in that independence - the need for both impartiality and the appearance of impartiality. The program examined how this need for impartiality plays out in Pennsylvania - one of approximately 39 states that elects its judges. Obviously, the voters need information about the candidates and their views to make informed votes, and the question is how much and what kind of information they should get without compromising the judges’ impartiality and appearance of impartiality. Pennsylvania, like other states who elect their judges, manages the speech of judicial candidates through enforcement of judicial codes of conduct, and those codes apply to both incumbent judges and lawyers running for judicial office. These codes threaten professional discipline for those who express certain views on certain issues. This is where the First Amendment comes into play, because you don’t give up your free speech and other rights when you decide to run for office. Limits on the speech of judicial candidates must pass strict scrutiny, meaning they must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. The primary compelling interest at issue is the due process rights that litigants have in an impartial judge.


Date: March 11, 2008
Title/Topic: "The Great Debate: Spoliation is Not Always a Lock"

Description: The candidates who were running for President of the United States converged upon Radnor, Pennsylvania to hold a debate. Amongst other topics discussed, the candidates answered questions about spoliation since that was a hot topic in Radnor due to the Paul Prank matter (see bench memo fact pattern.) The candidates not only discussed what spoliation is, but also its effects on litigation. As you know, after any debate, the political “talking heads” rehashed what was said to determine who came out on top. The program debate was no different; audience members were privileged to exclusive coverage following the debate, including a live interview with District Attorney John Law.


Date: January 8, 2008
Title/Topic: "Prosecutorial Indiscretion: John Fought the Law and the Law Won, A Tragedy in Five Acts"

Description: This program was produced and directed by Hon. David R. Strawbridge. The one hour program featured five acts in which the issue of prosecutorial indiscretion was examined through following John Law's re-election campaign as Delaware County District Attorney. Between each acts, a four piece band, The Men of Constant Litigation provided musical interludes.