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Anatomy of a Lawsuit

Anatomy of a Lawsuit
What Every Education Leader Should Know About Legal Actions

February 2006 | 160 pages | Corwin
Our society has always been drawn to the subject of jury trials with a mixture of fascination and anxiety, and we often tend to associate the jury process with criminal trials. In real life, including the world of public, private and parochial education, school leaders are much more likely to get involved in a civil trial. This generally means a case involving liability for alleged negligence. However, school leaders are not immune from involvement in criminal actions.

A few examples of the hundreds of situations in which school leaders have recently been involved as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or respondents include:

o Criminal defendant: sexual assault

o Civil defendant: employment discrimination

o Criminal plaintiff: coach assaulted by parent

o Civil plaintiff: teacher alleging defamation

o Character witness: student seeks diversion agreement

o Factual witness: administrator passing in hallway when science lab explodes

o Respondent to interrogatories: principal required to compile and produce employment records, curriculum guides, test scores, and more

o Consulting expert witness: school leaders helping attorneys understand high-stake testing procedures

o Testifying expert witness: explaining proper methods of instruction in the use of industrial art shop equipment

The book examines similar situations and others that have arisen out of, or due to, civil or criminal negligence on the part of school leaders, and provides examples, some of which were handled correctly with positive outcomes and others in which specific errors caused significant problems.

About the Authors
Section I. A Review of the Legal Environment and the Function of Law
1. Why Me?
2. Overview of the Organization of Courts and the Legal Environment
Section II. The Process of Litigation
3. Annie’s Case
4. The Litigation Process
5. Working With an Attorney: Attorneys’ Considerations in Deciding Whether to Accept a Case
6. Courtroom Environment: You May Feel Small
7. The Trial
8. Managing and Surviving Litigation Stress
Section III. Verdict and Analysis
9. Smith v. Red Ridge Unified School District No. 435 (Annie’s Case)
Section IV. Your Role as an Expert Witness
10. Serving as an Expert Witness
Section V. Managing Your Risk of Litigation
11. Concluding Thoughts

"This is a remarkable book. The authors provide concise, user-friendly descriptions of the various players in civil lawsuits and a definition of their roles and functions."

PsycCRITIQUES, April 2006

"In their timely and terse treatise, the authors assert that school leaders should view litigation as a routine function of successful practitioners who, in our increasingly litigious society, must be fully cognizant of basic principles of civil and criminal law."

The School Administrator, October 2007

Sample Materials & Chapters



Chapter 1

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412915465