Jury instructions must be submitted to the court more than forty-eight hours before trial. Attorneys should bring an editable, electronic copy of jury instructions to trial.
Attorneys and their clients must be present in court thirty minutes before trial begins.
All proposed exhibits must be pre-marked for identification by the court reporter. (Attorneys on both sides should work together to agree upon exhibits that may be admitted into evidence before trial.)
Attorneys should be prepared to meet with the judge thirty minutes before trial for pre-trial conference. The following matters are discussed:
Length of trial, length of opening statements, proposed witnesses, alternative resolution of issues.
All parties have the right to a fair trial. Certain strict court guidelines ensure a fair trial for both parties in a case.
You have likely met with your attorney several times before the day of trial. You are probably nervous. It is normal to feel this way. Most people go their entire lives without entering a courtroom.
You may think you know what to expect. Most Americans’ ideas of a court trial come from television. That is not reality. You are expected to conduct yourself respectfully to the court and the party opposing you.
How should you dress? Your attorney has likely told you, but if not, you should dress with respect for the dignity of the court. T-shirts, shorts and facial piercings are not allowed in circuit court. Men should not wear hats or caps. Jewelry and make-up should be tasteful. If you are wearing pants with belt loops, you should be wearing a belt.
Procedure of the trial:
Before the trial starts, the attorneys from both sides will meet with the judge to discuss the case and the issues to be tried.
Once this meeting is concluded, a jury will be selected. A panel of potential jurors will be present in the courtroom. The judge will speak to the panel and ask them some basic questions such as whether any of the panel knows the parties or the lawyers involved. The panel may also be told some very general information regarding the case to be tried. Then the attorney for each side will have an opportunity to ask the panel questions. These usually focus more on the panel members’ feeling regarding various issues that may keep them from being impartial. Once each side has a chance to ask questions of the jury panel, the attorneys and judge will select a jury for your case. This is be done in the courtroom.
Once the jury is selected, the attorneys, judge, and jury panel will return to the courtroom. The jury is seated, and the judge will tell the jury about their duties.
You must communicate with the judge and jury only through your attorney.
Your experience in court will be a positive one provided you participate by the rules and guidelines of court.