Litigation In Practice By Curtis E. A. Karnow

Currently on the Alameda County Law Library’s New Materials cart is the title ~ Litigation in Practice by Curtis E. A. Karnow (KF 277.P7 K37 2017)

In his new book, the author, a judge of the San Francisco Superior Court, discusses the theoretical – managing complex litigation, as well as, the practical – how to behave in the courtroom.  Judge Karnow’s voice of courtroom experience is well worth a read for anyone, lawyer or pro per.

His courtrooms dos and don’ts will be especially helpful for the litigation novice.  He provides advice on topics not touched upon by California procedural practice guides.  Attorneys can confident in Judge Karnow’s in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of California litigation.  He is a co-author of the authoritative Rutter Guide Civil Procedure Before Trial.

Some snippets of wisdom from Judge Karnow follow.  County law library reference librarians can easily concur with the simple truth of his recommendations.  Many patrons come to the Reference Desk seeking resources to help them challenge a court ruling that could have easily been avoided by attending to standards of courtroom behavior.  (“I was only 15 minutes late because of [traffic, parking, long security lines] but the judge ruled against me anyway.”)


Be very nice to them… staff report everything to the judge.”


Don’t interrupt the judge.  The judge can interrupt you.”

“‘Judge’ is informal.  In the courtroom use ‘Your Honor.'”

Honor the office otherwise we can’t have fair and efficient trials.”


Here is the basic rule: technology is great if lawyers know what they are doing and a distraction and waste of time if they don’t.”

Bring in everything you need.  Assume the courtroom is bare.”  California court budgets are being stretched thin these days.

“Set aside time to meet with the courtroom clerk to discuss setting up equipment.”

(On highly designed charts and graphs for use in courtroom.) “Jurors may be colorblind.”  And remember citizens who are blind are also part of the jury pool.


On time means getting to court early.  A nine o’clock appearance requires your attendance at 8:55, not later.


“…let go the Sin of Excess to concentrate on the One (or perhaps Few) Important Things.”


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