NELLES: Good morning, and welcome in to another episode of Ask The Experts right here on The Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond via the iHeartRadio app. My name is Mitch Nelles, a/k/a Thunder. And it is my pleasure to be here as your host right here on Ask The Experts this Sunday and every Sunday. I’m especially excited at this time to bring in one of our favorite guests here on Ask The Experts, Groth Law Firm. Jon Groth is here from Groth Law Firm. Good morning, Jon.
GROTH: Good morning to you.
NELLES: How are you doing, sir?
GROTH: I’m good. I’m good. It’s Sunday. It’s cold.
NELLES: It is cold.
GROTH: I don’t know what we’re going to do today, but —
MR. NELLES: Little bit warmer today. MR. GROTH: Yeah, yeah.
NELLES: So you can actually walk outside. We’ll see if the snow comes or not today.
GROTH: Relatively speaking, yeah.
NELLES: You know, we’re going to get to the law.
NELLES: I know we’ve got a lot to talk about. I’m still a little bummed that this weekend and next weekend there’s no Packers football to watch.
GROTH: What do you do?
NELLES: It’s so bizarre. And I know, you know — whatever your opinion is about Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, and obviously Rogers was hurt, and that made a big difference this year. But we’re just so used to — and I don’t want to say spoiled, because this is our reality. Your realty as a sports fan, you cheer for the team you cheer for. That’s your reality. We’ve become accustomed to watching January football. And there’s — we can still watch the games, but there’s no Packers January football for us.
NELLES: And it’s kind of a bummer.
GROTH: And certainly, I’ve been a lifelong Packers fan, but I have my Don Majkowski jersey in my closet still.
NELLES: Wait. Do you really have a Don Majkowski jersey?
GROTH: It’s in my — yeah.
NELLES: So Armen, who you’ve met —
NELLES: — before, Armen Saryan, who produces The Dan O’Donnell Show, and I know you’re doing some work with Dan O’Donnell.
NELLES: And also produces The Drew Olson show on The Big 920, that is his Packers jersey.
GROTH: Oh, really?
NELLES: He’s a huge Don Majkowski fan.
GROTH: Next time, I will — maybe I’ll wear my jersey. That’ll be hilarious.
NELLES: That would be hilarious.
NELLES: He would walk down the halls and do a triple take. He’d get very excited.
GROTH: But back in the day, in the ’80s, there was, I don’t know, what did we do?
GROTH: It was a whole different world. The Packers were a much different team pre-Brett Favre, certainly.
NELLES: Right. And Packers fans were just used to that.
GROTH: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
NELLES: But now we’re used to watching playoffs football. And again, we can watch the games, but we can’t watch the Packers. And it’s kind of a bummer.
GROTH: It is.
NELLES: You brought a friend with you today.
GROTH: I did. Ryan Grych, who has a history of playing football.
GRYCH: That’s very true. Good morning.
GROTH: There you go, yeah.
NELLES: Good morning, Ryan. A history of playing football?
GRYCH: This is true. All the way back in high school, I was at Whitefish Bay High School.
NELLES: Wait, wait, wait. You went to Whitefish Bay High School?
GRYCH: I did, yeah.
NELLES: Do you know that I live in Whitefish Bay?
GRYCH: No way. Where do you live?
NELLES: Bay Ridge.
GRYCH: No way. I’m at Elkhart.
GRYCH: Just down the road from there.
NELLES: Are you still there?
GRYCH: I am. I am.
GRYCH: Yeah. Small world.
NELLES: What’s up, neighbor?
GRYCH: How’s it going?
NELLES: I love it. So you played football for Coach Tietjen.
GRYCH: I did. Tietjen, yeah.
GRYCH: That’s correct, yeah.
NELLES: Yeah. And I know he had a huge impact on the community. And he’s sorely missed. And I know his son’s still doing some great things in the community.
GRYCH: Yeah, absolutely. Joey’s done a lot with that program. He’s been good to it. And Tietjen’s always kind of a mentor for all of us. So it was a good program to grow up with.
NELLES: Awesome. Wow. I didn’t even know you were a Whitefish Bay guy.
GROTH: Yeah, how about that? Making friends.
GROTH: Making friends on Sunday.
NELLES: That’s what we’re here for. Actually, what we’re here for is we’re here to ask the experts. So let’s get into it. So first, I’ll go over the ground — it’s not ground rules, but all the information.
NELLES: Grothlawfirm.com. Go to grothlawfirm.com. You can also go to maxyourcase.com. maxyourcase.com. You can give them a call at 414-240-0707. That’s 240-0707. They’re at 111th and Bluemound, which is Wauwatosa, right near Mo’s Irish Pub as well. So we visit with you the first Sunday of every month. The new year has hit. What’s new in 2018? Has anything — you know, we have a new tax bill. But in terms of the law, do things — do things change at all from year-to-year? Or how does that work, that it’s a new year? Does that mean anything?
GROTH: Well, not yet this year. It depends on certainly state law’s different than federal law. And the tax law’s federal. So when it comes to the state law and how that affects personal injury attorneys and personal injury victims, nothing has changed yet. There are some proposals out there. And last year, and the year before that, we were sweating because there were certain proposals about what’s called the collateral source rule that literally many law firms were going to put every single case into suit so you could avoid what would have happened if that law had changed. That would really have affected not only victims, but Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, and those companies.
NELLES: That sounds insane.
GROTH: It was huge. It was — there were firms that — well, and we were one, where we — every single case we could draft and get ready to put into suit, we drafted and were just waiting to see if legislature would have passed that law. I know I have friends at other personal injury law firms, and they’re doing the same thing where they just had, I don’t want to say it’s overtime, but they had staff come in on the weekends and draft, draft, draft. So we don’t have that this year. That’s good. We’re kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen.
NELLES: Do you see an influx of settlements or rushing to judgment before the end of the year? Is there more activity in December, whether it’s because I need a settlement for the holidays to pay for the holidays, or I need this for tax reasons by the end of the year? Do you see that at all?
GROTH: I do. I do. And that’s — for us, that starts back in September. Because we’ve known for years, my experience is that insurance companies that are working on a fiscal calendar year, they want to get things off the books before the end of the year. So I will have cases that I’ll have an adjuster who’ll be extremely overly honest and say, I will offer you an extra X amount of money just to get this off my plate because I want to be able to have my numbers for that year. And my theory is that certain adjusters, certain companies, pay bonuses for certain number that are claimed — or sorry — claims that are closed in certain periods of time.
GROTH: And I think it’s important to know and it’s important to take advantage of really. And that I have cases that you have some clients who want settle cases before the end of the year, before Christmas. But with that, we — Ryan and I have had those kind of hard conversations with clients that, Don’t sell yourself short, but if you need to, then we can take vantage of what the insurance companies are trying to do at this point in the process.
NELLES: Makes a lot of sense. Ryan, you’re here today. And why don’t you introduce — you know, we know you played football at Whitefish Bay.
GRYCH: Yeah, absolutely.
NELLES: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and what your specialties are, what you’re involved in.
GRYCH: Sure. Definitely. So I grew up in Whitefish Bay, like you said. I attended undergrad at UW-Milwaukee. So I have a lot of pride in that school there. Law school is right after that.
NELLES: Panther pride.
NELLES: Nothing wrong with that.
GRYCH: Big fan. Decent basketball team this time around.
NELLES: Yeah, they’re doing okay. Getting better. MR. GRYCH: Getting better. It’s progress for sure.
GRYCH: Marquette Law after that. Graduated just this last September. And I’ve been working for Jon Groth ever since.
NELLES: Excellent. You know, how — I don’t want to get too much into the weeds here, but how’s the experience going? I mean, you know, I’ve known Jon for a number of months now, and he seems like a good, fair guy. Would you — you know, how’s the experience been so far?
GRYCH: He is a good, fair guy. I tell people when they ask how the job’s going, “no complaints.” He’s been very instructive, patient, and is a good leader. So I really have nothing bad to say about him while he’s sitting right next to me.
GROTH: While I’m sitting right here. And this is being taped.
NELLES: Jon, could you leave the room, please? Then we can tell the story?
GROTH: It’s still being taped, so I will gladly leave the room, and just listen to it later on.
NELLES: Absolutely. And later on in the show, we’re going to get a little bit into something that you just came out of, Ryan. I know that you were just in the courtroom for the last week and a half, two weeks, or whatever it might’ve been.
NELLES: And Jon, I’ll throw it back to you. You know, we hear a lot, and I think the general public has this perception, that a lot of personal injury lawyers either avoid the courtroom or are skilled at avoiding the courtroom or know how to settle before you get to the courtroom. What percent of cases settle? What percent of cases settle in what time — what’s a normal time frame? And then how many cases do you see go to trial?
GROTH: Boy, and I think on average it’s probably about 90 percent of cases, at least, settle before a trial. So there’s maybe, and again that’s a big maybe, ten percent —
GROTH: — go to trial. And even that’s probably high. I’m probably erring high. You know what I usually say is there’s upward of 90 percent chance that the case will settle prior to a lawsuit. And then once you’re in suit, there’s a 90 percent chance that the case is going to settle before trial.
GROTH: So as you sit here with —
NELLES: So usually about one percent that goes to trial.
GROTH: It’s a very, very small amount. You know, I’m trying to think of — things are a little bit different for our firm, and they’ve been changing over the past couple years. When I opened the firm, we were going to be the trial attorneys. And we would be any firm’s trial counsel.
GROTH: And I did that.
NELLES: You enjoy a courtroom, I assume.
GROTH: I don’t mind the courtroom at all.
GROTH: So there were firms back in the day that I would go to their office and I’d be with the clients. And that firm, I knew, didn’t want to try cases. And that was part of my job was I figured I’ll go to those firms and advertise my services as a trial attorney.
NELLES: So would the firm hire you or would the client hire you?
GROTH: So the firm would come to me and say, Hey, let’s co-counsel. And then they could still save face with the client by saying, Hey, we’re co-counseling with this Groth guy. And then we, together, will go to trial when, you know, in all reality, it was me and the client at trial. And that firm was nowhere to be seen.
GROTH: But that was fine. And that was fine for me because that got me cases and it got me, certainly, more experience. And it was something that I was prepared to do and that I wanted to do. So that’s where there’s a little bit different is over the past number of years, eight years or so, maybe we tried more cases than some law firms because that was how we got cases was to try cases because you’re right in saying that some law firms have a reputation of not wanting to go to trial. And there are law firms that now have made a conscious effort to stop that reputation from spreading.
GROTH: And they’ve hired more trial attorneys and have been trying to go to trial a lot — a lot, lot more.
NELLES: But enough about those other guys.
GROTH: Yeah, yeah.
NELLES: We want to talk about the great things that you guys are doing. And later on in the program, we are going to talk about the recent trial. And, you know, we’re not going to get into specifics —
NELLES: — or anything like that, because we can’t. But Ryan, what does a courtroom look like?
GRYCH: The courtroom’s good. It’s got kind of old wood look to it.
GRYCH: It’s kind of how you imagine them to be in the movies or TV.
NELLES: Well, “A Few Good Men.” I mean, very famous —
NELLES: — for Tom Cruise turning around and saying, “So this is what a courtroom looks like.”
GRYCH: Yeah. I’ll tell you, the courtrooms in Milwaukee and Appleton look just like that. Same courtroom, pretty much.
NELLES: So kind of how we picture them. And so that was an experience. I’m excited to hear about that. Because, Jon, I don’t know how often you get into a courtroom these days, but it sounds like you’re open to that opportunity.
GROTH: Yeah. And I’m trying to think over the past year, we’ve had probably a handful of trials. And every year it’s approximately a handful of trials. Maybe four, five, six trials a year, which is a little bit unusual, I think, for personal injury firms. That’s kind of high. Some of our experience is just that you — my goal is you want to have those trials so insurance companies know that they’re not going to be able to take advantage of you. And that they’re not going —
NELLES: That you are willing to go to trial.
GROTH: Yeah. That you’ll know what’s going to happen throughout the whole process. And that you can then properly advise your client that this is why the insurance company is offering X, Y or Z, because this is the secret behind what will or will not be discussed at trial because there are all kinds of trial rules that — that are maybe not fair. And there are things that you can’t say or you can’t do in front of a jury, and the jury then would assume certain things, but you’re not allowed to tell them the truth, which is, for me, I think that’s implicitly unfair.
NELLES: Yeah, I was going to say, that sounds a little difficult.
NELLES: I want to get more into that unfairness —
NELLES: — a little bit. I got a couple other questions about the trial process as well when we come back. Jon Groth from Groth Law Firm is here. Remember, that’s G-r-o-t-h. G-r-o-t-h. Grothlawfirm.com. You can also go to maxyourcase.com. You can give them a call, 414-240-0707. 240-0707. Ryan Grych is here as well today, and he’s going to tell us all about being inside the courtroom the last couple of weeks. You’re listening to Ask The Experts on The Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide via the iHeartRadio app. And welcome back to Ask The Experts here on The Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond via the iHeartRadio app. Mitch “Thunder” Nelles here. Personal plug, make sure you go to thebig920.com and check out the It’s ALL Thunder! podcast. But also under the It’s ALL Thunder! podcast, all the episodes of Ask The Experts are also podcasted there on our website. So if you’re looking for past episodes of Ask The Experts with Groth Law Firm, just click on thebig920.com under “podcasts.” Well, as you can tell by that intro, our guests this week are, from Groth Law Firm, Jon Groth is here. Ryan Grych is here. Gentlemen.
GRYCH: Good morning.
GROTH: Good morning.
NELLES: Ryan, I should turn your mic — I didn’t turn your mic on.
GRYCH: Yeah, sure.
NELLES: So can you say good morning.
GRYCH: Good morning.
NELLES: Good morning again. And welcome back. Before we went to break, we were talking about going to trial. And how many cases settle before trial. Then what happens after a suit. And how many law firms want to be in the courtroom. And certainly, one of the things that sets Groth Law Firm apart is your ability in the courtroom because if you’re in the courtroom more often, I assume your ability is pretty good in the courtroom. I just have a number of questions about the trial process. How long is an average trial? And is there an average? Or does it totally depend on the case?
GROTH: Boy, I think it totally depends on the case. The past few years, I’ll say, trials were two, three days long. And now even that is a little bit not totally honest because if you’re in trial for, in essence, I’ll say three days, that’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
GROTH: You pick your jury in the beginning and then you go to lunch. And then the judge might have to have something else going on. So it’s a lunch. That’s an hour and a half. And then you’re at 1:30.
NELLES: That sounds like a great — liquid lunch? Is that a liquid lunch? Just wondering.
GROTH: There’s a lot of work during lunch.
GROTH: Always. So you might start at 1:30. And then you have to bring the jurors back. And sometimes jurors are — aren’t found. So you have to go find them. And then you might not start until 2:00. So then 2 o’clock starts. And your witnesses might not come in time. So you have lots of breaks and it can be a little bit awkward. But you certainly — it’s not like being on the radio for 8:00 until 5:00. It’s much different because there are so many starts and stops. So having your organization and being ready and able to go forward. And kind of knowing the case well enough that you can present certain things at certain times. For example, if it’s 3:30 in Milwaukee, some judges say, I’m going to stop everything at 4:30. And at 3:30 —
NELLES: So it doesn’t matter where you are.
GROTH: Doesn’t matter where you are.
GROTH: So then you have to decide, okay, I wanted to have this witness today, but I have this expert witness that I have videotaped, and it’s 45 minutes long. So let’s change this around. And then we’ll play that videotape from 3:30 until 4:15. And then the judge will be happy. We’ll go home and we’ll start the next morning with a new witness. Then you kind of have to change everything and figure out, okay, well, this witness now has to take off work that extra day —
GROTH: — because things are that way.
NELLES: So you need to be able to adjust on the fly. MR. GROTH: Certainly.
NELLES: And you also need to know your audience.
NELLES: You know, if the judge is cutting things off at 4:30, and is in a good mood at the end of the day, or in a bad mood at the end of the day, I assume you’re looking — you have people looking at the jury, you know, how they’re reacting to things and their nonverbal cues, that sort of stuff as well?
GROTH: Oh, gosh, I’ve had trials where jurors have fallen asleep. And I don’t blame them. And I had a judge who literally stood up, started clapping his hands, and was trying to be as loud and obnoxious as possible to wake up the juror. I’ve had jurors —
NELLES: You know, a pitcher of water often works, over the head.
GROTH: But judges are elected, so they don’t want to do that much. I guess they could get us to do it, but — I’ve had jurors who have gotten physically sick during trial. And the judges have had — and their staff and people have had to clean things up in the jury room — or in the courtroom. A lot of crazy things happen during trials.
NELLES: So not a personal injury case, but I was on a jury once where it was a big infraction, let’s say. And it was the Monday before March Madness started on Thursday. And I had a flight out Friday morning to Vegas. And they said, Oh, it’s going to be a two-day trial. And then, you know — well, midday Wednesday, we’re still in trial. We finally get sent — we don’t make a decision by the end of Wednesday. We’re into Thursday. And I’m freaking out because all my buddies are going to Vegas. And half of them are already there. And I wasn’t the foreman, so I didn’t steer the conversation in any way. We did finish up midday Thursday. And so, you know, I’m guessing that even juries have their own agendas sometimes.
GROTH: Oh, sure, yeah. And that’s something that you want to take into account when you end your case in chief, or when you have an important witness, or maybe a witness that’s not so important, you want to hide information — or not, in essence, hide, but kind of gloss over the best you can. You can do it after lunch, when people are kind of groggy because you just had your meal and not a hundred percent. Or do you do it right away in the morning when there are first impressions, those kind of things. There’s all those strategies to think about when you’re presenting your case, and when you’re looking at the jury, okay, what kind of people are these.
GROTH: Are they going to be morning people? Afternoon people? You know, what’s going on?
NELLES: There’s a lot of psychology here.
NELLES: You don’t just show up and read a script. So Ryan, you were just in a courtroom.
NELLES: And had an opportunity to be on a case. Going back to some of the things that Jon’s talking about. You know, reading the jury, reading the judge, knowing what time of the day it is. You know, take us — if you can generally tell us how some of those things played into the case that you just worked on.
GRYCH: Yeah. Jon’s absolutely right. The jury selection can sometimes take multiple days because you’re really trying to figure out what kind of jurors you have in front of you and what kind of jurors you want to be in front of you. So figuring out who’s going to react certain ways to your case is really important, sometimes takes time, depending on the case.
NELLES: And so when you’re picking a jury, I’m guessing you want — you want it to be fair. Certainly you want to — and, you know, it’s so hard in our society. You don’t want to judge or prejudge too harshly. And sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get. But you want it to be a fair composition of the community.
GRYCH: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes you want jurors from certain walks of life, jurors who you think will have certain opinions, for sure. So in some senses, you do snap judge people. And I’ll be honest, it’s kind of a fun thing to do sometimes.
NELLES: I love that. It’s fun for all of us, actually.
GROTH: And some counties give you the list of juries — jurors actually before trial. So you’re going into trial with a list of 60 people.
NELLES: And how much information do they give you? I mean, do they give you age? Do they give you ethnic background? MR. GROTH: I don’t recall. What did you have in that — .
GRYCH: I think you usually get age, first name, last name. Sometimes you get spouse information. And then where they live, actually.
GROTH: It depends on the judge and the county. So like that trial was in — was it Outagamie?
GRYCH: That’s right.
GROTH: So they’re more giving than other counties. Some counties we’ll just get the name and then the — a vague address and then the city or village.
GROTH: But with that, then what we do is, if you have the advantage of that a week before trial, you go onto Google and you go onto CCAP —
NELLES: Oh, yeah.
GROTH: — and you go in on Facebook and try to figure out what’s what to see —
NELLES: The makeup of —
GROTH: — the makeup — yeah, are they somebody that said, “I love personal injury lawyers, they are great,” on their Facebook page, or the opposite.
GROTH: And then what station do they listen to? Do they listen to conservative talk radio? Do they read the New York Times? Do they listen to 920? You know, what do they do in their pastime, in their off time, to get a good feel of what kind of person they’re going to be. Are they going to be a leader? So when they steer as the foreman, or forewoman, are they going to be somebody that’s a leader and they’re also more inclined to be in your side as opposed to the other side?
NELLES: So I’m guessing you have a team or you have people who do this. I’m guessing you, as the lawyers, don’t necessarily do this research, but you have people in your office who do this.
GROTH: Yeah. Well, and that’s why it’s nice like with Ryan, Ryan and Richard Schulz of our office, had that trial, so there was two of them there. And ideally, that’s what I like is to have multiple people at trial. So looking over documents, getting them ready. And then if we get the jury questionnaire before trial, I have law clerks and paralegals who are Googling and looking over, as best you can, to figure out what kind of jury it is.
NELLES: So I could get a job as a Googler? Is that a job?
GRYCH: You could, yeah.
GROTH: I guess, yeah.
GRYCH: I think there are whole companies devoted to figuring out what kind of people are on your jury and getting you that information quick. So you could if you wanted.
NELLES: So Ryan, how was your jury? What was it — you know, how did you feel about the makeup of the jury? And then once the trial started, how was the body language? You know, the nonverbal interaction with the jury?
GRYCH: Yeah. Definitely. So we ended up with a pretty good jury. There was definitely some people that we got initially that I felt like were impatient to be there, didn’t look like they’d be receptive. And we had a case that was very detail-oriented. And there was a lot of heavy document usage. So I figured if someone’s already bored before it starts, they’re not going to be paying attention to when I put, you know, Exhibit No. 110 up there. So we got —
NELLES: I love Exhibit No. 110.
GRYCH: Uh-huh. So it was good. It ended up good. You know, you definitely can tell when they’re — they’ve had coffee in the morning, they’re getting there, they’re ready to listen. The note taking is going on. But by, you know, mid afternoon, lunch, it does slow down. Like Jon said.
NELLES: Everybody needs a siesta?
GRYCH: You do. Absolutely.
NELLES: And I guess that’s not just the jury, but the judge and the lawyers and everybody kind of, I would imagine, whether it’s two to three days or, as you shared, yours was more like a week and a half, there are times during a trial where things slow down, where things get tiresome, where you get bogged down in whatever details you’re going over.
GRYCH: Yeah, that’s very true. And sometimes you feel yourself kind of thinking, Is the jury focused on what I want them to focus on? So you have to continually reorient your main points and, you know, keep the jury on task with you.
NELLES: You took me exactly where I wanted to go. So what are some techniques to kind of bring everything back, to kind of reenergize, whether it’s the judge or the jury or the witnesses or whatever it might be. What are some techniques to kind of, you know, if I’m at a trial or on a jury or whatever it might be, or if I’m trying a case, if you’re my counsel, what are some things I might see from you that get everybody reengaged into what they need to focus on?
GROTH: I’ll tell you one of the more basic things that I’ve had judges do is when you get a sense, you can ask for a sidebar. And the attorneys go to the side and out of the earshot of the jury. The judge says, Hey, everybody is kind of quiet and in a lull here. I’m going to have them do jumping jacks. And you literally will have the judge —
GROTH: — say, Okay, everybody, get up, stand up, hands over your head, touch your toes and —
GROTH: — get the blood flow. It’s interesting. But depending on the judge’s demeanor, it works. And some judges, like, Okay, this is what we’re going to do because I think we’re all kind of going to sleep. So there’s that. Then you have to go back to —
GROTH: — if the judge is not that kind of judge, it’s a matter of the order of your witnesses. You don’t want to have three boring videotape PhD types talking about —
NELLES: In a row.
GROTH: In a row. I mean, that would just put anybody to sleep. Now, I don’t fear videotapes as much as I used to because nowadays we’re all used to watching everything on a screen.
NELLES: Yeah, I was going to say, my seven-and-a-half and four-and-a-half-year-old, they’re used to having —
GROTH: Oh, yeah.
NELLES: All used to having a screen in front of us.
GROTH: Yeah. So people, I think, are engaged when they’re watching television. And certainly that’s something that, when you’re doing a videotape for trial, you have to understand how you want that presentation to be made to the jury however many months from then, you know. But that’s something that you can control how — kind of how the ebb and the flow of a trial is based on which witnesses are going and just their general personality. You know, you are given the opportunity to talk directly with a jury. And jury selection, where in jury selection, you’re talking, they are talking to you, and they’re allowed to talk to you. After jury selection’s over, and once you have your jury impanelled, you can’t. They can’t talk to you. They can sometimes ask questions, but they’re asking questions to the judge.
NELLES: Yeah, they write it down on that piece of paper and give it to the judge.
NELLES: And then the judge addresses you guys.
GROTH: Yeah. So the interaction is very —
NELLES: I’ve watched enough TV.
GROTH: You know. You know Law & Order.
GROTH: Oh, yeah. So opening and closing, you can change things. And you can have kind of hints and say, Okay, look for this. And I’ve had white boards up that you can strategically have at certain times, and you make it, I don’t want to say a game, but you make it interesting for the jury because they’re waiting for that information. And they have the key that, Okay, well, this white board was talking about X, and now we’re going to talk about that next. So I want to know what’s going on. They’re more engaged because they were teased with that in the opening.
NELLES: Jon Groth and Ryan Grych are both here from Groth Law Firm. Go to grothlawfirm.com. G-r-o-t-h. Grothlawfirm.com. Also maxyourcase.com. Or give them a call 414-240-0707. 240-0707. When we come back, we’re going to get more into the meat and potatoes of Ryan’s recent experience inside the courtroom. And questions you need to ask a potential lawyer, and Jon and Ryan specifically, if you think a case may need to go to trial and not get settled. My name is Mitch Nelles on The Big 920, thebig920.com and the iHeartRadio app. This is Ask The Experts. This is Ask The Experts. The Big 920, thebig920.com, streaming nationwide and beyond via the iHeartRadio app. Mitch “Thunder” Nelles with you as I am every Sunday morning right here on The Big 920. And it’s the first Sunday of the month. That means our friends from Groth Law Firm are here. Jon Groth is here. Ryan Grych is here. And we wanted to get into a little bit of meat and potatoes of what you just experienced, Ryan. And we talked a little bit about the jury and how that all works. But then beyond that, beyond just the jury experience, you know, you get into a trial. And once you’re in the trial, if I’m your client, you know, what am I experiencing during that trial? What — you know, I sit next to you, I assume. But what do I do during the trial?
GRYCH: Sure. So I think our responsibility to the client in large part is to make sure they’re aware of what’s going on during the trial. Because there is a lot of complicated minutia that gets lost. Sometimes you have to explain your motivations for certain things you do or don’t do. I think keeping the client on the same page with you for the whole course of the trial is real important to making sure they feel like they’re priority No. 1.
NELLES: And so if a question pops up, if — you know, I’m sitting next to you and I’m your client, do I just scribble out on a piece of paper and ask you? Do I wait until a break? What’s the best way to communicate during a trial?
GRYCH: Sure. So I’ve got a legal pad of maybe 20, 25 pages, just short notes between me and the client. When he or she doesn’t understand something, we kind of go back and forth and explain, Here’s why, or Don’t ask that, or Stay focused here. Because a lot of stuff kind of matters, and the jury’s always watching you, so you try to be as discrete as possible when you’re talking to the client.
NELLES: So during the trial, and you know, you can think about specifically the one you were just part of, how much of that is coaching, is really coaching your client on saying the right thing or sitting up the right way or dressing the right way, that sort of thing?
GRYCH: Sure. And all that stuff’s important. And you take the case to trial because you think you’ve got a good case. You think what the client’s going to say is going to be helpful for them. It’s going to end up maximizing their case. So you don’t tell them what to say or what not to say. You more give them instruction about here’s how to present it, here’s what you emphasize, here’s what you should probably gloss over a little bit more, and here’s how to stay focused on our goal here.
NELLES: So Jon, in general, how important is that coaching? And then how important is that public presentation of — you know, I’m not shaved today, but, you know, shave or wear a nice shirt or whatever it might be?
GROTH: Boy, there are stories that I’ve been told from other attorneys from back in the day where allegedly the client would come in the day of trial and that attorney would send his or her paralegal out, or law clerk out, to go buy new clothes because this was the wrong — it was the wrong —
NELLES: Run out to Kohl’s, get a new button down shirt.
GROTH: Yeah. And I have not had that kind of situation, but I’ve heard that has happened in the past. I can tell you this: It kind of goes back to the very beginning months ago when we first talked about when a client comes in the door the first time, you’re always thinking as so what’s — what may happen and the end result. So when they come in, what information do they have when they’re — when they’re presenting information and giving you information, you want to make sure that you tell them, You need to save this, do this or do that because this will be admissible, or we want to have that eventually at trial. So it’s important that you are ahead of the game with the client from the very, very beginning about what they need to do, need to gather, need to keep. And who they’re talking to, what they’re — what they’re doing involving the case, you know, from doctors to physical therapists or whomever so we can present all that eventually at trial.
NELLES: So Ryan, during the trial you were just a part of, how much of that came into play? How much of that conversation with the client and getting them to keep focused? And as you’re going through the trial, you know, do you ebbs and flows of, This is going well, This is not going well, or, I think we’re going to win, I don’t think we’re going to win? Or do you get a sense pretty early you think you know where this should go?
GRYCH: Yeah. I think for my part, my opinion changed almost hourly. Sometimes daily. There’s days we’d go home, have dinner, and talk about, What a great day, I can’t wait for tomorrow, We’re on our way to success. And days where you think, you know, How the heck do we handle this tomorrow morning? So there’s definitely ebbs and flows. Kind of depends on who’s testifying that day, how the judge is feeling, how awake the jury is. But yeah, it definitely goes back and forth.
GROTH: And just following up with that. With that particular case, I know you guys were in the conference room with binders upon binders and stacks and stacks of paper with the client and with yourselves. And then talking to doctors on the phone, that kind of thing. There was — it had to be maybe weeks upon weeks, right, where you were just going through documents and then meeting with the client to go over what you had to prepare and how it would come out at trial.
GRYCH: Sure. Absolutely. And I joked earlier about 110 exhibits, but the truth is, we had well in excess of 110 exhibits. So we combed through literally thousands of pictures, emails, et cetera, to get to what we thought was the best evidence for our client’s case.
NELLES: And so as you’re going along with a case, and Jon, you mentioned, you know, kind of the average is two to three days, but there is no average, depending on what happens, and Ryan, the one you just had for a week and a half, at what point do you get where you think — is there an aha moment where, Aha, the jury got this, or the judge got this, and finally, this is the path we’re going down? And when that happens, can the party that’s losing, and I put “losing” in air quotes, can they still come to the other party and try to settle real quick? Or how does that happen?
GROTH: Yeah. Well, I’ll say there are times when — usually you don’t want to be — you shouldn’t be surprised at trial, or have that moment like, Aha, I discovered something, because that means you probably weren’t doing a good job the previous three or four years.
NELLES: And I mean it less as a surprise, but more of, like, just that light bulb goes on that you, like, have —
GROTH: It clicks.
NELLES: — clarity.
NELLES: Yeah, clarity.
GROTH: Yeah, and that sometimes comes out just in — well, I like it to come out in jury selection, where you’re talking to the jury and the jury starts using words that you are trying to get them to realize, you know, about if there’s pain and suffering that they had experience with X, Y or Z in the past so you have that connection. Then it’s, like, Aha, we have a connection here. This is somebody or this is some information that will hopefully bubble through the entire process. So I think that’s, certainly for the jury selection, that’s the time when you can get your connection with the jury and see if you are having those kind of moments. When it comes to defense counsel coming through and — or coming to their senses, I guess I’ll say, and be willing to offer something or change their opinion, that’s something that can be done from the beginning to the end. And I’ve had that situation where — boy, I’ll give you one experience. It was probably 15 years ago. Maybe less. 13 years ago. I had a trial started on Monday, and we were with the judge on Friday. This was a unique situation because the judge wanted to go through a lot of the minutia and drafting of special verdicts and all that the Friday before trial. And we sat there with our clients in the courtroom. And the judge started talking about settlement, and really pushing us, and pushing the defense, to offer something. And I don’t know if the judge wanted to go on vacation the next week or what the deal was, but at the end of the day —
NELLES: Something was up.
GROTH: Something was up. And close to 5:00, the end of the day on Friday, the case settled. And then we had literally a week off because we had scheduled that to be at least a week-long trial. And that was unusual. But it certainly can happen. I’ve had cases where we are ready to go, and on the way to court, you get phone calls saying, Okay, we’re going to do X, Y or Z. Sometimes I think it’s the defense counsel or the insurance company just trying to see if you’re willing to do it. You know, who’s going to blink first or who’s going to — what’s that one movie where they’re on tractors and they’re playing chicken, I guess?
GROTH: Footloose. Thank you.
NELLES: You’re welcome.
GROTH: Kevin Bacon.
NELLES: A little bit before Ryan’s time.
GRYCH: That’s true. That’s true.
GROTH: Yeah, maybe.
NELLES: ’83, I believe. “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler is playing in the background.
NELLES: More famously known for “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” of course.
GROTH: All right. So that kind of stuff. So who’s going to blink first.
NELLES: That’s the minutia I know. I don’t know about the law stuff. I know —
GROTH: “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
NELLES: — ’83 pop culture, I can do.
GROTH: So yeah. So that’s something that it’s always possible. It’s also possible that the defense says, You know what? We offered X on that date, and we’re going only go down because now it’s costing us money. And we’re never going to offer more than we offered at mediation. You just never know. You have to use your best experience and your best knowledge to figure out whether it’s good to go to trial or not good to go to trial.
NELLES: When we come back, we’re going to hear how Ryan’s trial ended up and how he felt as the trial was getting to its conclusion. And we’ll also talk about how the relationship and the experience of the client was during that as well because as we’re looking at this whole picture, we’re talking about the client-based experience. And why, if you’re in a situation, you need to talk to Jon Groth and Ryan Grych at Groth Law Firm. Go to grothlawfirm.com. That’s G-r-o-t-h. Maxyourcase.com. Or give them a call. It’s a 414 number, 240-0707. 240-0707. You’re listening to Ask The Experts. And we’re back on Ask The Experts right here on The Big 920, thebig920.com streaming nationwide and beyond by the iHeartRadio app. Mitch “Thunder” Nelles with you with our friends from Groth Law Firm. Jon Groth is here. Ryan Grych is here. And Ryan just had the experience of wrapping up a week and a half trial. Ryan, take us a little bit through the schedule of a trial. You know, what is your schedule? And then also what’s the client’s schedule when there’s a trial going on?
GRYCH: Sure. So it is a little bit grueling, for sure. We’re up at about 4:30 or 5:00. We have hotel –
NELLES: Oh, sweet.
GRYCH: Really early.
NELLES: As long as you don’t have a four-and-a-half-year-old jumping on your head.
NELLES: I guess that’s okay.
GRYCH: No, we don’t. Not yet. So we’re up at 4:30, 5:00. We’re having hotel breakfast and coffee and kind of talking about what went right or wrong yesterday. Outlining the strategy for the day. There’s always a little bit of catchup paperwork and retooling your approach for that day because you get a lot of information with every new day at trial. So you try and reorient yourself so you’re making better, more positive impact on the jury.
NELLES: How do you go through all that information? Because, I mean, I assume you’re in court from 9:00 to 4:00 or whatever it might be. And there’s recesses and breaks and such. But there’s so much information, whether it’s a video or a document or the spoken word. You know, how do you really disseminate and figure out what’s really important and what maybe you don’t need to focus on? That’s a lot of information every day. And then the next day’s a whole nother day.
GRYCH: Sure. And that is a challenge. I think a lot of that is dealt with before the trial. The last thing you want is to be in front of the jury, you know, in trial, looking for that one picture that’s going to make a big difference. So you spend months in advance cataloging everything, itemizing everything, and just trying to get it ready so that you can pick up anything you need at the drop of a hat.
NELLES: And so as a trial winds down, what is the pace of a trial as it gets to, you know, the last person or, you know, even before closing arguments, but as you get to the end, does it have a feeling of, you know, we can see the end coming up or whatever? You know, how does that pacing and what goes through that process?
GRYCH: Yeah, definitely. So the middle of the trial’s really where you have all of the heavy detail, you’re bringing out everything you’ve got to show them. But by the end, you really want to focus on a handful of things. If the jury goes back there and thinks, Okay, Attorney Grych told us to focus on these three things, let’s focus on those. And you’re choosing your strongest three, four, five things for them to focus on. So by the end, you just want to be simple, direct, and clear about what you hope from the jury.
GROTH: And I’m always clear that we are almost done, you know, so the jury knows that they shouldn’t be — they won’t be stuck listening to me for another two days, that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we’re going to be done on X date or Y date. And usually the judge will say that at the very beginning. And the judge will then hold the attorney’s feet to the fire that, okay, you told them that you would be done.
GROTH: Yeah. Because, again, the judge is elected. The judge wants to make sure that these constituents are going to be happy at the end of the day.
NELLES: How important is it for the closing statement to kind of be a mirror of the opening statement, too? You know, the opening statement, you start building your case and you have the keywords, as you mentioned, that you want, you know, listen for this, or pay attention to — pay special attention to this. How important is it to bring it back to that conversation in your closing argument?
GROTH: I think it’s really important. And I think that that’s something that jurors have told me after trials. And Ryan can probably talk about that, too. But after a trial, you’ll have the opportunity sometimes to have a jury come — a juror come to you, email you or send a letter or a call or what have you, get in some kind of contact. And I’ve had times where they’ve said, Hey, you said this in the beginning, and then you showed us what that — what importance that was throughout, and you reiterated that in the closing, that was important for us, that you didn’t forget about that. And that I’ve had times where defense counsel had said, Hey, make sure you pay attention to this in the beginning. And that it was not mentioned in the entire trial. And then I will, at closing, say, Well, it’s interesting why it wasn’t mentioned.
GROTH: And I think juries do understand that, that you’re only there for a few days. Now, you’ve lived with the case for years.
GROTH: But you’re there for a few days. And the jury is really looking at this information and trying to figure out what you think you want them to think is important. And they might glom onto something that isn’t as important to you, but they’re going to hold you to it. And they’re going to be, I think, cognizant of what information they think is important throughout the entire process.
NELLES: So you mentioned that during the jury selection process, you’re allowed to talk to the jurors and they’re allowed to talk back. What feedback, or what type of communication, are you allowed to have with the jury once the trial’s done?
GRYCH: Sure. So there’s not too much you can’t ask them. Fortunately, I was able to poll a bunch of our jurors. I talked to them on the phone. And I got lucky because I think one particular juror didn’t have a lot on his plate that day, and so he sat down on the phone with me for close to an hour and a half and kind of gave me beat-by-beat what arguments worked, which didn’t, and why. And he was more than happy to tell me about how young I looked at the trial, which was interesting and nice, but otherwise provide good feedback, too. So next time we have kind of a better picture of what works and what doesn’t.
GROTH: So we went to a wig shop and we’re going to get some nice gray hair for Ryan.
NELLES: Yeah, borrow my beard.
GROTH: There you go.
GROTH: Get some wrinkles.
NELLES: So then once that happens, once the trial’s done, what does the client do next? Win or lose, what’s that process of, all right, the trial’s done, the client’s sitting next to you, the jury makes their decision, the judge says all the rules that are going happen, and what happens next. And I’m sitting next to you. What do I do?
GROTH: Well, part of the problem with that process is the jury has their decision, and they think that they may have done a great thing or whatever. And then that document is signed. And it’s kind of anticlimactic because then you have a document, but then the judge needs to rule on that document. And are there any legal issues or are there certain facts that weren’t brought out or that the jury should not have been allowed to hear.
GROTH: And so you didn’t meet your burden or whatever. And then you have a time when there’s motions after a verdict. So then a few weeks later, you’re going to go back. And then — so you tell your client, Okay, this is what we have on paper, but now —
NELLES: But that doesn’t mean it’s over.
GROTH: That doesn’t mean it’s over because you have, and the defense has, the opportunity to come back in front of the judge and say, Oh yeah, this, that, or these five things should not have happened, therefore, the jury trial was invalid or this particular answer should’ve been that answer. And then the judge — the trial judge has the opportunity to rule on that. If the other side doesn’t like that, you can appeal it. And I’ve had those situations where you go on appeal, and you have a client who’s, like, Oh, my gosh, I just want to get this over with, it’s been five years now —
GROTH: — and what’s going on, so —
NELLES: I would guess that a lot of those questions hopefully get answered during the trial itself. That if something’s brought up that shouldn’t be or something should’ve been asked, you know, when you’re waking up at 4:30 in the morning, like, Oh wait, you know, this wasn’t covered the way it should’ve been or wasn’t communicated exactly how we want to portray it, that then you can do that in the trial as opposed to going back afterwards.
GROTH: Oh, sure. And that’s where you have to have your ducks in a row in the beginning. You have to know what are the important elements that you have to have into evidence. Not just discussed, but actually entered into evidence. And that’s an important thing. And then you want to make sure that you’re sticking with the plan so you’re able to present that in a way that that’s not going to just seem like you’re trying to get A, B and C in. That there’s some theater.
NELLES: Some flow.
GROTH: Some flow. Thank you.
NELLES: “Flow” is the good word.
NELLES: I think you guys have done a really nice job today of taking people through the trial process and what to expect if a settlement doesn’t happen and how that trial process goes through. I think, you know, we only have a couple minutes left. And I kind of want to end with, you know, taking people back to the beginning. And I’m the victim of a personal injury. You know, we talked about dog bites. We’ve talked about, certainly, car crashes and — or whatever it might be. So something happens. What do I do?
GROTH: I — and this is a good kind of segue because I’ve had jurors who have said, after a trial, because everybody has a camera in their back pocket.
NELLES: Everybody has a phone. So, first of all, take pictures.
GROTH: You know what? I think it just makes sense that if you have damage to your vehicle and somebody else’s vehicle, if it’s a car crash, you take pictures of what’s around there. If there are witnesses —
GROTH: — and this is something that is, I think, unusual nowadays, but it happens, where people will come to a scene and say, I saw what happened. And if they don’t give you their information, just take a picture of maybe their license plate or something so you can contact those witnesses.
NELLES: Can you record an interview? I mean, we all have voice recorders on our phones, too. Can you record, Hi, what’s your name? Where do you live? What’s your address?
GROTH: I think that’s great.
GROTH: I think that’s a great idea. Yeah, just —
NELLES: So get as much information as you can, right? And then call you. You know, call you as soon as possible to get — you know, if you’re involved, you know, call 240-0707 immediately to start that process.
GROTH: And — yes. I think the reason for that is there are so many little things that can go wrong, like was a notice filed at a certain time, and that’s within 120 days. Or did you request a certain police report. Or was there a video that now it’s too late so the video’s gone. There’s all those things that you need to know whether you should even ask for them. And you need to know that right away after a crash.
NELLES: Makes sense. You know, it’s a little overwhelming to think about all the things you need to keep track of. But everything’s important.
GRYCH: Absolutely. Details matter and keeping good records is very important.
GROTH: I agree.
GROTH: Thank you.
GRYCH: Thank you very much.
NELLES: Appreciate your time this morning.
GROTH: Yeah, it’s been fun.
NELLES: Ryan. Ryan Grych from Groth Law Firm. Ryan, go Blue Dukes.
GRYCH: Thank you. I agree.
NELLES: Jon, always a pleasure.
GROTH: Marquette, awesome game this past week. 52 points.
NELLES: How about that Markus Howard?
NELLES: That was — my girls gave up storytime to stay downstairs and watch overtime. And they were just like, Another three pointer. And then when Sam Hauser shot that last one, there was no doubt that one was going in.
GROTH: Well, and winning by five in overtime is awesome. I mean, it was just a good feel. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was great.
NELLES: Good win for Marquette, no doubt about it. Jon Groth, Ryan Grych, my guests today on Ask The Experts. Go to grothlawfirm.com. That’s grothlawfirm.com. G-r-o-t-h. Also you can go to maxyourcase.com. Maxyourcase.com. Give them a call, 414-240-0707. 240-0707. They’re right on 111th and Bluemound in Tosa if you want to pop in. I’d call first, but if you need to pop in, you go right ahead. 111th and Bluemound in Tosa for Groth Law Firm. The Big 920, thebig920.com and the iHeartRadio app. My name’s Mitch Nelles and this has been Ask The Experts.