Sean Claggett

Claggett & Skyes Law Firm

I was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, and moved to Boise, Idaho when I was three years old. I lived in Boise until the end of third grade. I then moved to Las Vegas. I attended 8 different schools from 1st-12th grade. I played junior college baseball in California. I finished my bachelor's degree at UNLV. Just before I graduated, I married my high school sweetheart, Lou, and we have been happily married for 22 years. I attended UNLV Boyd School of Law and graduated in 2003. I started my own law firm, Sean K. Claggett & Associates, on January 1, 2005, with a single employee. My firm has changed names two times, the first was Claggett, Hays & Sykes and the second and final change was to its current name, Claggett & Sykes. Today our firm has over 55 employees which includes 22 lawyers. I love baseball and golf, and as I write this bio I am at St. Andrews enjoying day 1 of the 150th Open.

John CampbellSean Claggett
John Campbell · Sean Claggett

JuryBall: What Is Big Data

Hour 1: What Is Big Data

John and Sean will spend the first hour discussing “What is Big Data and How Can Lawyers Use It”. While the law has traditionally been considered an art, with intuition and instinct playing a major role in decision-making, there should be a larger emphasis on data and science in the field. Many questions in the law have fixed and correct answers, and lawyers should not be guessing at these answers but instead using data to inform their decisions. The first hour of this presentation provides examples of questions that have concrete answers, such as whether to begin an opening statement by discussing the plaintiff's injury or the defendant's conduct. John and Sean will show that bringing more science to cases does not eliminate the art of lawyering but elevates it. To illustrate this point, we will discusses the development of a computer program, AlphaGo, which learned to play the board game Go through deep learning and eventually beat the world champion. Just as AlphaGo taught the champion new tricks, bringing more science to law can empower great lawyers to try even better cases.

Hour 2: Jury Psychology

People are predictable, even when their behavior is irrational. Human cognitive fallacies, which are predictable, repeatable, and chronicled in books like; Thinking, Fast and Slow and Predictably Irrational, can be used to lawyers advantage if they ask the right empirical questions and study them correctly. During this hour we will stress the importance of testing empirical questions to avoid self-inflicted, expensive wounds, and emphasizes that trying a case without obtaining the answers to empirical questions is equivalent to guessing. Finally, we will explain that the true value of a case, within a range, is knowable and should be determined through data, not instincts, to avoid donating money to the defense. We will use numerous real life examples where we have conducted big data studies and have jury verdicts to back up and support the data.

Hour 3: Debunking Jury Myths

We will address the prevalence of old wives' tales or myths in the legal profession. These are often well-intentioned but lack empirical evidence to support them. One example is the belief that certain demographics of jurors are better or worse for a case, such as liberal vs. conservative or black vs. white jurors. However, we will show the effectiveness of jurors depends entirely on the case and can be determined through empirical analysis. We will also challenge other myths, such as not submitting low economic damages, highlighting bad facts in mini-openings, and starting with the defendant's bad conduct. We will encourage attendees to be open-minded and challenge these myths, as they may not hold true in all cases.

Hour 4: To Waive Or Not To Waive Is The Question

Every case is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling cases. Even small changes in a case can lead to significant differences in outcomes. Therefore, it is important to approach each case with an open mind and make decisions based on data and evidence rather than relying on predetermined strategies or approaches. We will show an example of how omitting an economic damages request in one case led to increased damages and win rate, but in another case, omitting the economic damages request could have decreased damages and win rate. The key takeaway is that there is no Rosetta Stone for handling cases, and every case requires a unique and data-driven approach. We will compare a legal case to a product that needs to be refined and tested before it is presented to the market, which in this case is the jury. We will emphasize the importance of conducting market research to determine the viability of a case and to identify the target audience. Testing the case with real people, gathering data, and refining it accordingly is crucial to ensure success in the courtroom. We will stress the need to move away from guessing and instinctual decision-making and toward evidence-based methods for optimizing a case.

Hour 5: Wisdom From The Greats

We will highlight the importance and usefulness of the knowledge and strategies shared by the greats of trial law. Data is not meant to replace these strategies, but to fuel them. Examples of the greats include Rick Friedman, who emphasizes identifying simple rules that jurors understand and agree to, Mark Mandell, who focuses on finding the best and worst issues in a case, and Nick and Courtney Rowley, who teach about being brutally honest and credible with the jury. We will explain how data can help enhance these strategies, such as testing different lost wage claims to determine what jurors believe to be fair and being able to accurately rate the severity of an injury based on jurors' intentions for award size. The more precise and powerful data an attorney has, the better they can prepare for trial.

Hour 6: Winning Big

To be a successful trial lawyer, you need to reduce the number of cases you work on. With too many cases, there is not enough time to properly prepare for depositions, review documents, draft motions, and conduct trials. We will discuss singularly focusing on one case during workdays, which are typically two days that last 12-16 hours per day without distractions. The firm requires the referring attorney to provide them with all relevant documents and answer important worksheets focusing on the order of proof, timeline, and defendant's excuses. We will discuss how to use big data to understand what drives good and bad jurors to deliver a verdict and to prepare voir dire questions and opening statements. We will emphasizes the need to be objective and consider every potential defense that the defendant might raise. The goal is to turn a mountain of information into a laser-focused set of documents, witnesses, and facts that will drive the largest verdict possible.

Sean ClaggettDorothy Clay Sims
Sean Claggett · Dorothy Clay Sims

Crushing Experts: Mastering The Medicine

Hour 1: Depo Prep

We will discuss how and what is needed to properly prepare to take the deposition/cross examination of defense paid witnesses. During this first hour, we will discuss how we research defense paid witnesses and how to organize this information for use in your deposition/cross examination. You will learn that the amount of time preparing for a successful deposition/cross examination takes way longer than the actual execution of the examination.

Hours 2 & 3: Mastering The Medicine

We will take a deep dive into the medicine. Dorothy and Sean will debunk the long-held belief of many plaintiff lawyers that lawyers should not challenge the defense paid witness on the medicine. Rather plaintiff lawyers have an obligation to their clients to learn the medicine and then directly challenge the defense paid witness on the medicine. Showing the jury that the defense paid witness is lying about the medicine not only cements the validity of your client’s injuries, but it also drives the verdicts and often leads to larger verdicts because juries hate when doctors lie about the medicine.

Hour 4: Negative Space

Bruce Schechter is a master of “Negative Space” cross examination. Dorothy and Sean will demonstrate how the use of negative space is used in the examination of defense paid medical witnesses. We will use actual clips from trials and depositions. You will leave this hour knowing what “Negative Space” is and how you can implement it in your next examination.

Hour 5: To Depose Or Not To Depose

We will discuss the strategy in determining whether to depose a defense paid witness or to wait until trial to cross examine them. If the decision is made to depose a defense paid witness, we will explain how we use the transcript to draft motions to strike or limit the expert in their testimony at trial. The biggest fear of any paid witness is having orders striking or limiting their testimony, as this information will be used in future cases against them.

Hour 6: Q&A

This final hour will be used as a question & answer session. We will open the floor up for all attendees to ask the questions they are facing in the pending cases and we will help you figure out ways to overcome the obstacles you are facing in your cases.

Geordan LoganSean Claggett
Geordan Logan · Sean Claggett

Cross Examinations

Hour 1: Work days and how they drive our cases

Learn about the worksheets our attorneys use for every case, and how these worksheets when completed correctly will help you create the most powerful opening statement, order of proof, and voir dire. We will also have John Campbell join us to explain how we use Big Data reports to drive our workdays.

The following two cases will be used at the teaching vehicles.

Case #1: Vehicle v. Pedestrian: $14.1 Million Verdict

Our client, who was hit by a SUV while riding his bicycle, walked out of the courtroom with a $14.1 Million verdict after a two-week trial. Although portions of our client’s spine were fused as a result of this collision, the jury made it clear that he did nothing wrong, and that this jury was unwilling to tolerate the defendant’s conduct and excuses.

In each one-hour segment we will analyze the strategies we used to tell our client’s story in an affective, illuminating, and persuasive way. The way we presented our client’s story of what happened in this case could not be overcome by the excuse-ladened defendant. This verdict was as much about the manner in which the facts were presented to the jury as it was about the facts themselves. This trial is a great example of how truly understanding your client’s life, injuries, and dreams will guide you in presenting a compelling, impactful case for a full and fair verdict.

Case #2: Medical Negligence: $47 Million Verdict

In this case, a young mother was left conscious but entirely unable to communicate, after doctors failed to properly treat her dangerous sodium imbalance resulting in her suffering permanent brain damage.

The challenge in trying this case was figuring out how to simplify, simplify, simplify. This complex case involved claims against numerous doctors and staff at two separate hospitals. The case was heavily entangled with medical theories, jargon, and testimony; yet we knew that in the end, the story was a simple one. Throughout this seminar we will discuss the process we underwent to simplify the complex and electrify the mundane. The $47 Million verdict seems to indicate that we told the better—simpler—story.

Hour 2: Voir Dire

Learn the techniques we use to bring our juries together and to make sure we get rid of the jurors that will never see the case favorably for our side; The following two cases will be used at the teaching vehicles.

Hour 3: Opening Statements

See how we used the information contained from our workday worksheets to create the most powerful opening statements in the industry. We will also discuss the use of powerpoint and how it is way more powerful than you ever knew.

Hour 4: Direct Examinations

Learn how to be prepared to execute the best and most succinct
direct expert and lay examinations.

Hour 5: Cross Examinations

Learn the art of devastating cross examinations. We will discuss the preparation as well as the execution of the cross examinations for both lay and expert witnesses.

Hour 6: Closing Arguments

We will demonstrate how we use video clips of the key trial moments to create powerful closing arguments. We will also go over how we incorporate songs into our closing arguments. And how we framed the Money ask. In the end you will have new tools to give your most compelling closing arguments ever.

TLU Live HB Agenda