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Difference between revisions of "REGULATION OF ATTORNEYS AT TRIAL" - MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges
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Difference between revisions of "REGULATION OF ATTORNEYS AT TRIAL"

From MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges

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A. Speaking in the Active Voice
 
A. Speaking in the Active Voice
 +
===Explanation===
  
 
B. Before the start of testimony informing the attorneys of the trial and courtroom procedure
 
B. Before the start of testimony informing the attorneys of the trial and courtroom procedure

Revision as of 08:56, 7 July 2011

1. TRIAL COURTS HAVE A GRAVE RESPONSIBILITY IN OVERSEEING AND REGULATING COURTROOM CONDUCT AND PROCEDURE DURING TRIALS, INCLUDING CRIMINAL TRIALS. A TRIAL COURT MUST MAINTAIN ORDER IN THE COURTROOM. [1]

2. A JUDGE SHALL REQUIRE ORDER AND DECORUM IN ALL PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE JUDGE.[2]

3. THE TRIAL JUDGE IS NOT A PASSIVE MODERATOR AT A FREE-FOR-ALL. THE TRIAL JUDGE IS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF JUSTICE AND HAS AN AFFIRMATIVE OBLIGATION TO KEEP COUNSEL WITHIN BOUNDS AND TO INSURE THAT THE CASE IS DECIDED ON THE BASIS OF RELEVANT EVIDENCE AND THE PROPER INFERENCES THEREFROM, NOT ON THE BASIS OF IRRELEVANT OR PREJUDICIAL MATTERS. [3]

Attorneys want to know how a judge conducts trials in his or her courtroom. There are many subtle differences in how judges conduct trials. The more information attorneys have about how the judge conducts a trial, the easier it will be for the attorneys to conform their trial conduct to the judge's expectation. The judge can use the jury to direct attorney's behavior. A good example is when an attorney thanks a judge for an evidentiary ruling. It is not uncommon for an attorney to thank a judge after the judge overrules an objection made by the attorney. A simple response by the judge to such a "thank you" could be to say, from the bench in the presence of the jury, say; "Counsel it is not necessary to thank me for my rulings." The attorney now knows the jury KNOWS the attorney is not to thank the judge for evidentiary ruling. Knowing that, it is less likely the attorney will thank the judge for future rulings.

4. METHODS AND PROCEDURES FOR REGULATION OF ATTORNEYS IN THE COURTROOM

A. Speaking in the Active Voice

Explanation

B. Before the start of testimony informing the attorneys of the trial and courtroom procedure you want them to follow;

  • Form of objections,
  • Movement in courtroom,
  • Approaching witnesses,

C. Going over trial and courtroom procedure in presence of jury.

D. Conferences at the bench.

E. Calling the attorneys attention to behavior that you want them to discontinue.

F. Obtaining agreement of attorney to discontinue behavior.

G. Chambers conferences.

H. Informing attorney(s) that if inappropriate behavior continues you will admonish them in presence of jury.

I. Issuing a curative instruction to jury informing them of improper behavior of attorney.

J. Informing attorney, if behavior continues, subsequently imposing court costs.

K. Informing attorney, if behavior continues, that attorney will be held in contempt.

L. Taking a short recess.

M. Explaining the possibility of, if behavior continues, declaring a mistrial

N. If negative objectionable behavior is engaged in by the prosecutor, explain possible double jeopardy bar to retrial if mistrial granted.

O. Threatening to require misbehaving attorney to apologize to jury.

P. Requiring the misbehaving attorney to apologize to the jury

5. REGULATION OF BEHAVIOR OF PROSECUTOR " Finally, we feel compelled to note that even though the prosecutor’s misconduct was harmless, we do not condone the prosecutor’s complete disregard of the district court’s sequestration order (prosecutor informed a state witness what a previous witness had testified to). . and his comment—“I can tell my witnesses whatever I want”—was particularly offensive and disrespectful to the district court. The government’s right to charge its citizens with crimes, put them on trial, and, if convicted, seek harsh punishment, only comes through a judicial system that in both reality and appearance is balanced, fair, and respectful of individual rights. Absent that perception, in particular, the government suffers a loss of credibility with its citizens. here, the prosecutor belittled the very process that afforded him the right to proceed with this trial in the first place. [4]

6. REGULATION OF DEFENSE ATTORNEYS The district court can issue an appropriate curative instruction to the jury appropriately identifying misconduct committed by defense counsel or the prosecutor [5]

  1. State v. Mems, 708 N.W.2d 526, 533 (Minn. 2006),Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 2.02,Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 3.A(3).
  2. id.
  3. State v. Salitros, 499 N.W.2d 815 (Minn.,1993)
  4. State v. Hansen, A06-1901, (Minn. Ct. App.2006)Unpublished Opinion
  5. State v. Breaux, 620 N.W.2d 326, 333 (Minn.App.2001),Poston v. Colestock, 540 N.W.2d 92, 94 (Minn.App.1995)