General Guidelines for All Trials and Hearings
- Absent approval of this Court, motions to continue shall be filed at least ten days before a scheduled hearing to allow the opposing party time to respond.
- The parties are cautioned: this Court generally makes an immediate or expedited decision on a motion to continue only if the parties have already discussed the motion and the opposing party does not oppose it.
- Motions to continue will not be granted automatically, even if the parties agree.
Do not cancel witnesses or otherwise change your plans until the Court notifies you that the motion has been granted.
- When setting a trial or contested hearing, each party shall estimate a reasonable allotment of time.
- The Court will set time limits for each side. If the parties do not specify a particular time allotment for each side, the Court will divide the scheduled time equally. It is not the Court’s intent to micromanage. The parties may use their time however they wish.
Example: In a one-day jury trial, jury selection will occupy the morning, and opening statements will begin at 1:00 p.m. To allow an hour for deliberations, each party is limited to 90 minutes.
- The parties shall, either with or without the Court’s assistance, resolve all discovery issues well before trial. All evidence, witnesses, defenses, etc. must be timely disclosed.
a. Disclosure is information for the other party, and typically should not be filed with the Court.
b. The State must provide disclosure to the Defendant at the first Pretrial Conference.
c. The Defendant must provide disclosure to the State 20 days after the State’s disclosure.
d. Each party must provide additional disclosure whenever new information is discovered.
e. Final disclosure is due to the other party at least seven days before trial.
f. If you do not receive the required disclosure in a timely fashion, you may seek court intervention only after a good faith attempt to resolve the issue by personal consultation.
g. If you do not disclose your evidence or witnesses, the Court may not allow you to present them, and may impose additional sanctions.
- If you wish to have the Court issue subpoenas for witnesses, you must request the subpoenas with sufficient time for the subpoenas to be prepared and served.
You are responsible for service if you are the party requesting the subpoena.
- Pretrial motions are due at least 20 days before trial. Absent an agreement between the parties, the opposing party generally has 10 days to respond.
- A variety of technology is available for presentation of evidence. Inquire with Court staff.
- Parties, attorneys, and subpoenaed witnesses must not leave the building until excused by the Court, even if they do not expect the trial to go forward.
- The parties should provide exhibits and witness lists to Court staff before the trial begins.
- Parties should generally operate under the following guidelines for objections:
a. Address objections to the Court, not the opposing party.
b. State the legal ground for the objection without argument or elaboration.
c. Do not argue regarding the objection unless the Court invites argument.
d. In jury trials, offers of proof may be made during recesses if requested.
Specific Guidelines for Jury Trials
- A final pretrial conference will generally occur approximately two weeks before trial to confirm the schedule and time limits for trial and resolve any other issues that require attention.
At the final pretrial conference, each party shall submit to the Court a list of anticipated witnesses together with an estimation of the time required for each witness.
- The parties must have all exhibits marked, and shall provide final exhibit and witness lists to Court staff, before jury selection.
- Jury selection will begin promptly at the time scheduled for the trial. If there are other matters to be addressed, the parties must notify the Court promptly so they can be addressed early.
- Absent a stipulation and Court approval, jury selection will proceed as follows:
a. A panel of 24 will be seated in the order on the “random list” from the group summoned.
b. The Court will read the complaint and plea. The parties and witnesses will be introduced.
c. The Court will conduct voir dire of the entire jury panel.
d. The parties will have reasonable time to give “mini opening statements” and conduct further oral examination of the prospective jurors. This examination may not be used to make arguments to the jurors or solely to impart information to them.
e. The panel will be excused so that the Court and parties may question individual jurors.
f. The Court will hear any motions to strike for cause.
g. The parties will each ordinarily make three peremptory strikes.
h. The panel will return and the Court will announce the six jurors (an alternate will be used for trials expected to last more than one day).
- The Court will distribute proposed preliminary jury instructions; the parties shall raise any objections or proposed additions before the date of the trial.
- The Court will give preliminary instructions immediately after announcing the final jury panel.
- The Court will give the parties reminders of their time limits, but it is the responsibility of the parties to manage their own time.
Note that the Court will not wait for late witnesses. Parties must prepare for contingencies.
- Although bench conferences are recorded, if the parties wish to preserve any bench conference for the record they should do so at the next available jury recess.
- The parties shall submit proposed final instructions and forms of verdict to the Court and the other party before the trial date. The Court will settle final instructions before closing arguments.
- The Court will give final instructions after closing arguments, unless the parties request that some or all instructions be given before closing arguments.
- Counsel cannot waive their presence for jury deliberations or pronouncement of the verdict.
- Sentencing will occur immediately upon determination of guilt unless the court, upon request of a party or victim, orders that sentence be pronounced at a later date no more than 30 days after trial.
The purpose of these guidelines is not to micromanage, but to establish clear expectations that will ease preparations for the parties and ensure a process that is smooth, fair, and efficient. If you have a suggestion to improve the operation of this Court, please let us know.