Book Review – Tennessee Law of Civil Trial by Attorney John Day

Posted on Oct 26 2014 7:18PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Many of you who practice law in Tennessee have read and used books by attorney John Day as a resource in your law practice.  These books include Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law and Tennessee Law of Comparative Fault.  I have used both of these books on numerous occasions.  The good news is John Day now has a new book called, “Tennessee Law of Civil Trial.”  This can be added to your list of helpful Tennessee specific law books written by attorney John Day.  He sent me a copy and requested I write a review and it has been a good experience.


The main purpose of this book is to clearly outline the “Law of Civil Trial” in Tennessee in a concise helpful way.  John Day points out, as many of us have come to realize, that there are significantly less trials in Tennessee than there were in the past (I have blogged about this issue previously).  As a result, less and less attorneys have significant civil trial experience and therefore he felt a resource would be helpful for those attorneys who still occasionally go to trial but may not have the trial experience a lot of attorneys had in the past.  I think this is the primary value of this book.  The secondary value is to provide a helpful reference on specific topics for more experienced attorneys who have tried many cases.  This group of attorneys can still benefit from this book because it provides a refresher course on certain topics.  I will be placing this book in my firm’s library because it is a resource that can be taken to trial or reviewed prior to trial to remind you of certain trial concepts that we may not use on a day-to-day basis. 


This book discusses many different areas and I think it is helpful for you to know the topics so you can better understand the scope of this book.  This book provides chapters on the following topics:


            1.          Scheduling orders

            2.          Final Pretrial Conferences

            3.          Motions in Limine

            4.          Jury selection

            5.          The Rule

            6.          Opening Statements and Closing Arguments

            7.          Examination of Witnesses

            8.          Use of Depositions at Trial

            9.          Opinion and Expert Testimony

            10.        Mistrials

            11.        Motions for Directed Verdicts

            12.        Findings of Fact

            13.        Jury Instructions

            14.        Juror Questions

            15.        Verdict Forms

            16.        Discretionary Expenses

            17.        Motions for New Trial and to Alter or Amend Judgment

            18.        Remittitur

            19.        Additur

            20.        Motions for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict

            21.        Preparing to Win at Trial


As you can see this is a comprehensive discussion of some very important areas of law that we come across during the context of a civil trial.  Please note - this is not a Rule of Evidence book.  As John Day states in his book, there are other books written in Tennessee on the Rules of Evidence that comprehensively deal with that subject.  The way I would characterize this book is it is a practical guide to the ins and outs of trial practice.  There are citations to case law throughout the book that can be used to prepare for issues that may come up at trial. 


Additionally, there is a helpful list of 77 “tips” for trial.  Some of these tips are simply the way John Day has found that he prefers to practice.  Some of them I use and some of them I think of differently.  However, all of them got me thinking about different ways to approach trial and to be a better attorney.  That should always be our goal when we study the law – and that should never stop as long as we practice.


I mainly recommend this book to newer attorneys or those who do not have the opportunity to go to trial very often.  As fewer cases are tried in Tennessee, there are less attorneys who have the practical trial knowledge and experience to give advice on trial issues.  Therefore younger attorneys are going to have less available resources from whom to obtain advice on trial issues in the future – this will only get worse as time passes.  This can especially be a problem in small law firms or for solo practitioners.  As a result, I highly recommend this book for those individuals.  I also think this book is appropriate for more experienced attorneys to use in order to remind of important concepts leading up to trial.  Some of these concepts we are aware of, but do not use as frequently as we would probably desire.  This is why I review the Tennessee Rules of Evidence before every trial – not in great detail, but just to remind myself of all of the rules so they are fresh in my mind.  This book can be reviewed before each trial in the same way for those that are more experienced trial attorneys.  Once again, John Day has added another valuable resource for practitioners of law in Tennessee.


Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Defense Litigation blog.

TAGS: Miscellaneous
John Day  -  10/26/2014 8:34:24 PM
Thank you for reviewing my book and for your kind words.

The book is available for purchase at www.johndaylegal.comlawyer-attorney-2297234.html.

Finally, thank you for taking the time to write your blog. It is an excellent resource for Tennessee lawyers.


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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com