Rules of Conduct for Counsel While in Trial

  • Be on time for court.
  • Make brief objections on legal grounds.
  • Stand to object or to address the Court.
  • Do not respond to opposing counsel's objection, unless you first ask leave of the Court to do so or the Court asks you to do so.
  • Do not talk at the same time that opposing counsel, a witness, or the Court is talking.
Your Client
  • If your client is in custody at the time of trial, bring appropriate clothes for him to wear to the courtroom, and give them to the bailiff before the trial.
Jury Selection
  • Prior to jury selection, the law requires a punishment election and/or application for probation to be filed ONLY if the jury is the selection.  The Court is automatically the punishment selection if no election is filed.
  • This Court will announce the time allotted each side for voir dire prior to the commencement of jury selection.
  • Early in the Court's remarks, the Court will introduce the parties at which time you will please stand and make an appropriate greeting, e.g., "good morning" or "good afternoon," etc.
  • The Court expects a challenge for cause to be made when it is reasonably apparent a challenge is proper.  The State should make its challenges before passing the panel to the Defense. The Defense should make its challenges before concluding its voir dire. This Court generally does not permit individual voir dire and expects challenges to be made in the same manner as any other objection, i.e., in front of the panel. The Court will explain this process to the panel.  The Court will also inform prospective jurors that they have the privilege of answering any question privately if they choose.  If you have a prospective juror who is particularly unruly or out-of-control, you may approach the bench and request individual voir dire and the Court will consider the request on a case-by-case basis.  The Court will generally consider a challenge for cause waived if it is not made prior to the jury panel being finally excused to the hallway for the exercise of peremptory challenges.  In other words, the challenge must generally be made while the entire panel is present.
  • The Court expects each side to instruct their witnesses that when being questioned by opposing counsel they will directly answer the questions asked without elaboration unless opposing counsel asks for elaboration.
  • If the Rule has been invoked, instruct your witnesses accordingly.
  • Have your witnesses in attendance at the court and ready to testify when needed.
  • Have your witnesses dress appropriately for court.
  • Do not point firearms, loaded or unloaded, in the direction of jurors, witnesses, or any other persons in the courtroom.
  • If possible, have the court reporter mark exhibits before trial begins or during breaks.
Post-Trial Communication With Jurors
  • Upon discharging a jury, the Court will explain to the jurors that they may speak with the trial attorneys if they so choose.  Rules of Professional Conduct 3.06(d) forbids a lawyer from making comments to a juror "calculated merely to harass or embarrass the juror or to influence his actions in future jury service."  The Court expects nothing less than professional conduct while talking with discharged jurors.  In view of the last clause, the Court expressly forbids disclosing to the jurors or discussing with the jurors any information relating to the case that was not admitted into evidence during the trial.  Attorneys may speak with the jurors in the hallway in front of the courtroom.