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Blocking Reptile Trial Practices: Excluding Inflammatory, Improper Information Through Oral and Written Argument

Pre-Trial Motions, Trial Briefs, Motions for New Trial and Judgment Nothwithstanding the Verdict, Remedies, Preserving Issues for Appeal

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Monday, July 15, 2024

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

The CLE course will discuss how to use strategies through oral and written word to exclude "reptile" evidence and arguments from the courtroom. The program will guide counsel through effective use of pre-trial and trial strategies, motions in limine, trial briefs, and new trial/JNOV motions to exclude Golden Rule arguments, profits-over-safety themes, community savior verdicts, and the like.


"Reptile theory" is a challenging and often-discussed plaintiff's trial strategy. It subtly encourages jurors to envision themselves in the same situation as a plaintiff but with the power to "save" the plaintiff, themselves, and the community from future harm by awarding a large verdict.

Much has been written and discussed about oral defenses against reptile strategy, such as during depositions and witness examinations, as well as during opening and closing. But there are also powerful tools and strategies that can be wielded in defense of this strategy: counter anchoring numbers on damages, humanizing the corporate defendant, motions in limine, trial briefs, and motions for new trial/JNOV, among others.

Knowing these strategies and how to present them, including drafting these motions and briefs carefully and precisely, allows defense counsel to neutralize common arguments from plaintiffs. By establishing that specific questions and evidence are part of the reptile strategy, defense counsel can counter the plaintiff counsel's moves at every turn and prevent the reptile's bite.

Listen as this experienced panel of trial attorneys explains how effectively written papers can augment other anti-reptile defenses and how counsel can draft winning papers.



  1. Overview of reptile approach
  2. Procedural motions to keep reptile questioning and argument out
  3. Defending reptile depositions
  4. Substantive pre- and post-trial motions to combat reptile tactics
    1. Preserving error for appeal during trial motion
      1. Motion for mistrial
      2. Motion for directed verdict
  5. Existing and recent case law


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What issues and lines of questioning are best suited for written motions in limine?
  • How can defendants respond to allegations that their motions in limine seek what is in effect a "gag" order?
  • How can reptile theory error be best preserved for appeal?
  • When can counsel seek a new trial based on reptile tactics?


McLeod, Alexandra
Alexandra McLeod

Of Counsel
Wilson Elser

Ms. McLeod has two decades’ experience in Nevada trying cases on both sides of the civil bar in front of Las...  |  Read More

Whitlock, Kathryn
Kathryn S. (Kate) Whitlock

McAngus Goudelock & Courie

Ms. Whitlock has spent her entire career defending and counseling individuals and insurance companies in professional...  |  Read More

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