about a contract modification it proposed and that it shouldn’t have been
allowed to withdraw.
Pro se litigants almost always lose.
So Progenics may have felt good about
its odds when the case finally went to
a jury trial in 2015. But Perez quickly
got the upper hand.
The U.S. district judge assigned to
trial, Loretta Preska, made a point of
accommodating Perez. Goldschmidt,
the professor, has heard of judges
requiring pro se litigants to ask themselves questions—essentially serving as both witness and advocate.
(Cinephiles will think of the scene
in “Bananas” where Woody Allen’s
character cross-examines himself,
frenetically jumping in and out of the
witness box). Preska opted for a more
natural approach, allowing Perez to
testify in first-person narrative form.
Progenics’ defense counsel, Blair Fensterstock of the Manhattan firm Fensterstock & Partners, was free to raise
objections as he saw fit.
Given this chance to shine, Perez
quickly showed that he’s not the typi-
cal pro se litigant. Having been rep-
resented by counsel for the first two
years of the litigation, when much of
the heavy lifting was done, he learned
the basics of courtroom rules and eti-
quette. In a post-trial ruling, Preska
wrote that he “presented as a cred-
ible witness, trying his best to relate
information in a truthful, accurate and
“This is a highly articulate, edu-
cated chemist,” Goldschmidt says.
“Given his background, it’s not sur-
prising he fared pretty well.”
MISTAKE NO. 3:
GETTING ANGRY ON THE
A key moment during trial was
Union relations and union organizing campaigns can present the most profound challenges for your
Perez’s cross-examination of Baker—
a face-off between two men who
clearly dislike each other. It got off to a
rough start. Perez politely said, “Good
afternoon, Mr. Baker.” Baker didn’t
respond. Later on, Baker referred to
Perez by his first name. The judge
later scolded Baker for not answering
questions directly. At one point, Baker
responded to a question by saying:
“We are English-speaking people. We
know how to read.”
That was game over for Progenics,
says Trask. “I’ve never seen a witness
get angry on the stand who didn’t face-
plant,” she says. “It is absolute death.”
Before going in-house, Baker led
the capital markets practice group at
Dewey Ballantine (a predecessor to the
ill-fated Dewey & LeBoeuf). But Trask
isn’t all that surprised that he strug-
gled on the witness stand. She says
business. Fisher Phillips has the experience and tenacity to help you get the results you need.
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