Conduct of a Trial

This handbook information is available for download (PDF).

Beginning

The trial will begin with opening statements by the attorneys for both sides. The attorneys will explain their client's position and what they expect to prove. These statements are not considered evidence but are an introduction to claims that must be proven by the presentation of evidence.

Examination of Witnesses

The examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence will begin after opening statements. The witnesses will first be examined by the attorney who called them, then cross-examined by the other attorney. This process can proceed further by redirect and re-cross examinations.

Attorneys may make objections during the trial in an effort to limit the testimony being presented. Objections are a legal and proper part of the trial process. If the judge sustains the objection, the evidence or testimony is not proper, and if he overrules the objection, the line of questioning may continue.

Juror Excusals

Occasionally during a trial, the jurors are excused so that arguments may be presented to the court concerning an objection or other legal issues. This is done outside the presence of jurors to avoid possible prejudice. These activities, and the judge's ruling on objections, should not cause you to give either side more favorable consideration.

Final Arguments

In final arguments, both attorneys will have an opportunity to summarize their positions and review the facts of the case. At the conclusion of the final arguments, the judge will issue instructions to the jury concerning the law and its application to the particular case.

Deliberation

The jurors will then proceed to the jury room to begin deliberation. The jurors must select a foreperson who presides over these deliberations. You will discuss the evidence and attempt to arrive at a fair and impartial verdict based on the facts presented during the trial and the law as given by the judge's instructions. When deliberations are complete, you will return to the courtroom for the presentation of your verdict.

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