Denver Bar Association
October 1999
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Scary Stories From the Courtroom

by Craig Eley, Loren Ginsburg

 
 

I was in the civil division of the county court on a stormy day, defending a client against a pro se plaintiff. Mr. Plaintiff was being cross-examined by yours truly. I was really done, but I wanted to ask one more question to show how not credible this guy was, and how much he had lied. I was sort of fishing, and wasn't really sure how he would answer. Just as I began to ask, there was a blinding flash of lightning and the immediate explosion of thunder. Thinking better of my decision, I advised the judge that the defense rested, and I sat down. Once again, proving the axiom, never ask a question you don't know the answer to.

Loren "Ghouly" Ginsburg

My first appellate argument dealt with a truck accident, which resulted in the death of the driver, and his heirs were suing the county for negligence in the construction of the road. My client, an insurance company, insured the county for its negligence, but excepted any incident "arising out of the existence of county roads." The trial judge, granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs, ruled the policy did cover the accident, so the county's immunity was waived.

I appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that the issue involved unresolved factual issues. The judges asked me some tough questions, and I thought they were not going to see it my way.

When my opponent made his argument, he stood and said, "I believe Mr. Eley's position is correct." An astonished judge asked if he was stipulating to have the matter sent back down to the the trial judge. "Yes, I am," the other lawyer responded. And so it was done. I was later to learn that not all appellate arguments go so easily. In fact, since that time, none of them have!

Craig "Cold Sweat" Eley



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