CRIMINAL JURY TRIAL JUDGES MANUAL “A Step by Step Guide From the Beginning of Trial Thru the Return of Verdict”

Criminal Jury Trial Manual photo

In 2013 I published a Criminal Jury Trial Manual for Judges and Attorneys that covered every step of a Jury Trial from the pre-trial conference thru the return of verdict. It serves a dual purpose. For judges it serves as a step-by-step script that they can follow throughout the entire trial. For attorneys it serves as a trial reference guide and a reminder of key procedural issues that every trial attorney should know (but so many tend to forget or overlook.)  Whether you use the manual as a script or as a reference guide, following the recommended steps greatly reduces the risk of judge or attorney committing a costly mistake resulting in a mistrial or reversal on appeal. 

Back in 2013 copies of the manual were distributed to every District Court Judge, all 87 County Attorneys Offices, all 10 Judicial District Public Defender Offices, the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and dozens of private law firms and law libraries.

Even though a copy of the manual can be found on this Blog site, over the past year I have received so many requests for additional copies that I’ve decided to redistribute the manual via this post.

COPYRIGHT PERMISSION: Although the manual is copyrighted this post is your permission to download and distribute the manual to anyone you think might find it helpful. Click on link at bottom of this post.

For those unfamiliar with the manual, below is a copy of the Table of Contents.

(I) PRE-TRIAL CHECKLIST (IN CHAMBERS) ……………………………………………5
     1. SCHEDULING
     2. WITNESS LISTS
     3. SEQUESTRATION, EXCLUDING PERSONS, COURTROOM CLOSURE
     4. JURY INSTRUCTIONS – PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS
     5. CHARGES AND ARRAIGNMENT
     6. STIPULATIONS AND/OR ADMISSIONS
     7. JEOPARDY ATTACHES ONCE JURY SWORN – DEADLOCKED JURY – MISTRIAL
     8. DEFENDANT’S RIGHT NOT TO TESTIFY – PROPER RECORD
     9. DISCOVERY ISSUES
     10. AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES
     11. WITNESS INCRIMINATION ISSUES
     12. SECURITY/CUSTODY ISSUES (IF DEFENDANT IN CUSTODY)
     13. USE OF WEAPONS/HAZARDOUS EXHIBITS DURING TRIAL
     14. OPENING STATEMENT
     15. EXHIBITS
     16. COMPETENCY OF CHILD WITNESSES – SAMPLE QUESTIONS
     17. PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT
     18. MOTIONS IN LIMINE AND OTHER TRIAL EVIDENTIARY ISSUES
     19. VOIR DIRE PROCEDURES AND GUIDELINES
     20. TRIAL GROUND RULES
     21. JUDICIAL WIKIPEDIA – JUDGES ONLINE BENCH BOOK
II. START OF TRIAL AND VOIR DIRE…………………………………………………….20
     1. INTRODUCTION OF CASE (20)
     2. INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JURY PANEL BEFORE EMPANELMENT (20)
         a) Questions asked by the Court (23)
         b) Exercise of Preemptory Strikes (28)
         c) Cautionary Recess Instruction (29)
         d) Administration of Oath to Selected Jurors (30)
III. INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE TRIAL BEGINS………………………………………31
IV. EXPLAIN TRIAL PROCEDURE & OPENING STATEMENTS……………..39
V. ORDER OF TRIAL & CAUTIONARY INSTRUCTIONS ……………………….41
VI. FINAL JURY INSTRUCTIONS & CLOSING ARGUMENTS…………………42
VII. EXCUSE ALTERNATE & START OF DELIBERATIONS …………………….45
VIII. END OF TRIAL: REVIEW OF ADMITTED EXHIBITS …………………….46
IX. RETURN OF VERDICT…………………………………………………………………..47

The Manual can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on this link:

https://blogpendleton.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/2013-criminal-jury-trial-judges-manual.pdf

Alan F. Pendleton, Former District Court Judge, afpendleton@gmail.com; 763-498-1508

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