Criminal Practice Guidelines
I. Case Scheduling
- If a case genuinely appears likely to require a trial, alert chambers as early as possible so that a firm trial date may be assigned.
- Counsel should alert the Bailiff as promptly as possible if a plea agreement is worked-out that makes it probably no trial will be needed.
- Counsel should consider with their clients whether a jury waived trial might be useful to eliminate delay.
II. Status and Pretrial Conferences
- A short pretrial statement is required of counsel using forms available in chambers 5F.
- Defendants are expected to attend all conferences at court unless excused in advance for good reason, and after notice to the Assistant Prosecutor.
III. Trial Procedures
- Ordinarily trials commence at 9 a.m. and recess for the day around 4:30 p.m. These hours can be altered somewhat to accommodate witness schedules. Once a jury is sworn we make it a priority to move trials to completion. Please plan accordingly.
- Motions in Limine are discouraged. They may be filed only after good faith discussion by counsel, and upon certification that reasonable efforts to resolve the issue(s) were exhausted.
- Trial briefs are not required. Counsel may submit copies of key cases or very short memoranda addressed to novel legal issues.
- Marking Exhibits during trial wastes time. The court reserves the right to exclude Exhibits not pre-marked and exchanged among counsel prior to trial. Whenever appropriate, counsel should use "Joint Exhibits;" marking duplicate exhibits for each side greatly confuses the record.
- Prior to opening statements, the court gives an oral charge to orient jurors to their role. The final jury charge is submitted to each juror in writing in all cases. The court has a standard set of "boilerplate" instructions covering burden of proof, credibility, rules for deliberating, and other matters common from case to case. However, trial counsel must consult and prepare case-specific portions of the final charge. Merely saying "we’ll just use OJI" leaves far too much work to complete and may delay trial.
- Local Rule 27.13(F) (PDF) sets out "Rules on Voir Dire." Because the court does preliminary questioning and juror questionnaires are available, lengthy voir dire is usually unnecessary.
- Challenges are normally exercised outside the presence of the jury.
- In unusual situations the court participates in videotaping depositions of trial witnesses who may be elderly, reside out of state, or otherwise meet the criteria of Crim R. 15