A Light in the Dark

TRIAL PROCEDURE

(1) Preliminaries

Bailiff calls court to order, attorneys stand and judge enters room
Judge asks for attorneys’ names (sometimes called “appearances”); attorneys give their names and whom they represent.
Judge asks if there are any preliminary issues and attorneys make motions. Plaintiff usually goes first. Motions are of three kinds:
a) Motion to separate witnesses under Fed. R. Evid 615
b) Motions in limine to prevent the other side from bringing up inadmissible evidence
c) Requests that the judge clarify his or her procedures on specific issues; e,g, i) May exhibits be used in opening statement?; ii) May leading questions be used on preliminary or uncontested matters?; iii) Should you state grounds for an objection in open court or at the bench?; or iv) Will the judge give jury instructions before or after closing arguments. If instructions are not given until after arguments, will the judge permit you to refer to specific pattern jury instructions during argument.

(2) Jury selection (not usually done at trial competitions)
A jury panel is brought in
The judge introduces the case and lectures the jury about civic responsibility
Six jurors are called to sit in the jury box
Plaintiff questions the panel first, and when done, then defendant questions them
Either side may challenge a juror for cause (legal disqualification) whenever grounds become apparent
After the questioning, the lawyers approach the bench and tell the judge whether they have any peremptory challenges (you just don’t like a juror). Plaintiff exercises the first challenge, then defendant, then alternately until they are satisfied with the panel or run out of allotted challenges. You may not challenge jurors based on race, ethnicity or gender.
New jurors are called up to fill in the jury box and the process starts over again.
The jurors who remain are sworn in

3) Opening statement
Plaintiff (or prosecutor) gives an opening statement
Defendant gives an opening statement.

(4) Plaintiff’s case in chief
Plaintiff calls Witness No. 1
a) Plaintiff conducts direct examination
b) Defendant conducts cross-examination
c) Plaintiff conducts brief rebuttal

Plaintiff calls remaining witnesses. For each one:
a) Plaintiff conducts direct examination
b) Defendant conducts cross-examination
c) Plaintiff conducts brief rebuttal

Plaintiff announces that s/he rests
.

(6) Defendant’s case-in-chief
Defendant calls Witness No. 1
a) Defendant conducts direct examination
b) Plaintiff conducts cross-examination
c) Defendant conducts brief rebuttal

Defendant calls remaining witnesses. For each one:
a) Defendant conducts direct examination
b) Plaintiff conducts cross-examination
c) Defendant conducts brief rebuttal

Defendant announces that s/he rests.

(8) Plaintiff presents its rebuttal case, limited to new facts, issues and defenses raised during the defendant’s case-in-chief.

Plaintiff calls one or more witnesses
a) Plaintiff conducts direct examination
b) Defendant conducts cross-examination
c) Plaintiff conducts brief rebuttal

Plaintiff announces that s/he rests.

(9) Both sides renew their Rule 50 motions for judgment on the evidence.

(10) Closing arguments
Plaintiff presents the first argument
Defendant presents his or her argument
Plaintiff presents the final argument

(11) The judge instructs the jury on the law

(12) Jury deliberation
The jury deliberates in secret long enough to get at least one free meal.
If the jury requests more instructions or a review of evidence, it takes place in open court with the parties present. Even the judge may not communicate ex parte with the jury.
The jury returns its verdict, the lawyers are summoned, and the verdict is read.
Whichever lawyer lost the case asks that the jury be “polled,” a process in which each juror is individually asked if they agree with the verdict.

A Light in the Dark

The Red Sun Burnttoastking