Saturday, August 11, 2012

NITA Training

Micronesian Legal Services Corporation is hosting training by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) in its offices throughout Micronesia.  MLSC offices in Majuro (Marshall Islands), Kosrae, Chuuk, and Pohnpei (FSM) and the Marianas  (CNMI/US) each had one or more days of trial advocacy practice in intensive workshops during the past two weeks. The MLSC offices in Yap and Palau will have this training in the coming week.

JoAnne Roake and Michael Roake

The NITA trainers were Michael and JoAnne Roake, who live in New Mexico. Mike is the Director of NITA's Pacific Region Trial and Deposition programs, and JoAnne has been a faculty member with NITA for many years.  Both are energized. Each share many practical tips. Each provide both group and individualized comments.

Lunchtime lecture (Deb Fisher, Mike White, the Roakes, Dimitri Varmazis and others in attendance)

Mike Roake, captivating the audience (including Jennifer Dockter, Brad Huesman, Loren Sutton and Dick Pierce)

The training was top-notch and intensive, on topics that included depositions, direct examination, cross-examination and ethics, among other things. Participants each had time practicing skills on deposition, direct and cross-examination in a mock trial scenario with a case problem that had been provided ahead of time.

Talking about Direct Examination
(Niva Bennett, Maria Muna, Lucia Blanco-Maratita, Ben Weber, Teresa Kim, Nancy Gotfried, the Roakes, and others)

JoAnne Roake, providing insight to Nancy Gottfried
 MLSC staff who participated in the training included Marianas Office attorneys Jane Mack and Dimitri Varmazis, Central Office Acting Director Ben Weber, and MLSC Board of Directors member Lucia Blanco-Maratita. Ben Weber has participated in the training in the other sessions throughout Micronesia, so acted as a witness in the Saipan training, along with MLSC paralegal Frank Rogopes, MLSC summer law intern Siniva Bennett, and volunteer attorney Jennifer Dockter. Paralegal Maria Muna attended all day, and paralegal Polly Anne Sablan and secretary Lolita Nazaire joined for the set-up, registration and introductory remarks.  Secretary Juanita Sablan manned the Marianas office while we were all busy with NITA.

Ben Weber takes the heat as a mock witness from attorney Nancy Gottfried, while JoAnne Roake provides guidance.

Frank Rogopes enjoys his time on the witness stand.

The training was specifically arranged for the benefit of MLSC staff, but because it is generally applicable and useful in all areas by trial practitioners, each office has opened its training to other participants, In the CNMI, a limited number of attorneys were invited to attend.  The Bar Association CLE coordinator, Deb Fisher, promoted the program here and there was more interest than available slots for attendance, so she held a raffle. The lucky 13 who attended the program at minimal cost (to cover a light lunch) were David G. Banes,  Charles E. Brasington, Deborah E. Fisher, Nancy Gottfried, Braddock J. Huesman, Teresa K. Kim, James B. McAllister,  Brien Sers Nicholas, Richard W. Pierce, Loren A. Sutton, Christopher M. Timmons, Colin M. Thompson, and Michael A. White.

Everyone is interested. (Christopher Timmons, Jennifer Dockter,  Loren Sutton (partially hidden), Brad Huesman, Dick Pierce, Frank Rogopes (standing),  David Banes, Niva Bennet (foreground),  Mike White, Colin Thompson (standing))
Practice in the courtroom. (Dick Pierce at podium, Mike White, Jennifer Dockter, Charles Brasington)
While most of the other MLSC offices received 3 days of training, the NITA training in Saipan was crammed into a very long and focused one-day session.  There were few breaks, usually just 5 to 10 minutes, and even lunch included a seminar lecture. 

Lucy and Nancy enjoy a few minutes break outside in the warm air.
The NITA training was made possible by a Department of Interior grant, about which MLSC was notified by Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan. MLSC applied for the DOI grant and, according to Ben Weber, it was "an amazingly effecient process" after the application was submitted.  The training has been so successful that we look forward to more opportunities for such grant-funded learning.