Tennessee Defense

Lawyers Association


Update on Reptile Theory

29 Sep 2016 10:00 AM | Mary Gadd (Administrator)

From the DRI Trial Tactics Committee-

Regalado v. Callaghan - Appellate Court Opinion Addressing "Reptile" Theory

For those of you interested in recent developments regarding the plaintiff Reptile theory you should take a look at the recent California Court of Appeals, Fourth District opinion published in the case entitled Regalado v. Callaghan.  A copy of the decision can be seen by clicking here.

While the decision is ultimately adverse to the defense, the important point to be gleaned from the ruling is the fact that there is now finally a published California opinion addressing the “Reptile” theory.  See pages 19-21.

Essentially, the Court of Appeal holds that such arguments are improper, but in this case not prejudicial and were waived due to the lack of a timely objection.

While the decision is ultimately against the defense, there is now an opinion holding that the Reptile argument is improper.

The lessons here are:
1. Reptile arguments are misconduct.
2. Defense counsel has to object as soon as those arguments are made (even better, pave the way with a MIL or pre-argument brief explaining that it is misconduct and that you will object).

Please be sure to pass this along to all of your clients and colleagues.  This case was brought to my attention by members of the Amicus Committee of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC). 

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