What Happens During the Trial

Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the judge. The usual order of events is set out below.

Step I: Selection of the Jury.

Step 2: Opening Statements. The lawyers for each side will discuss their views of the case that you are to hear and will also present a general picture of what they intend to prove about the case. What the lawyers say in their opening statements is not evidence and, therefore, does not help_prove their cases.

Step 3: Presentation of Evidence. All parties are entitled to present evidence. The testimony of witnesses who testify at trial is evidence. Evidence may also take the form of physical exhibits, such as a gun or a photograph. On occasion, the written testimony of people not able to attend the trial may also be evidence in the cases you will hear.

Many things you will see and hear during the trial are not evidence. For example, what the lawyers say in their opening and closing statements is not evidence. Physical exhibits offered by the lawyers, but not admitted by the judge, are also to be disregarded, as is testimony that the judge orders stricken off the record.

Many times during the trial the .lawyers may make OBJECTIONS to evidence presented by the other side or to questions asked by the other lawyer. Lawyers are allowed to object to these things when they consider them improper under the laws of evidence. It is up to the judge to decide whether each objection was valid or invalid, and whether, therefore, the evidence can be admitted, or the question allowed. If the objection was valid, the judge will SUSTAIN THE OBJECTION. If the  objection was not valid, the judge will OVERRULE THE OBJECTION. These rulings do not reflect the judge's opinion of the case or whether the judge favours or does not favour the evidence or the question to which there has been an objection.

It is your duty as a juror to decide the weight or importance of evidence or testimony allowed by the judge. You are also the sole judge of the CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES, that is, of whether their testimony is believable. In considering credibility, you may take into account the witnesses' opportunity and ability to observe the events about which they are testifying, their memory and manner while testifying, the reasonableness of their testimony when considered in the light of all the other evidence in the case, their possible bias or prejudice, and any other factors that bear on the believability of the testimony or on the importance to be given that testimony.

Step 4: TheJnstructions.  Following presentation of all the evidence, the judge instructs the jury on the laws that are to guide the jury in their deliberations on a verdict. A copy of the instructions will be sent to the jury   room for the use of jurors during their deliberations. All documents or physical    objects that have been received into evidence will also be sent to the jury room.

Step 5: Closing Arguments. The lawyers in the closing arguments summarize the case from their point of view. They may discuss the evidence that has been presented or comment on the credibility of witnesses. The lawyers may also discuss any of the judge's instructions that they feel are of special importance to their case. These arguments are not evidence.

Step 6: Jury Deliberation. The jury retires to the jury room to conduct the deliberations on the verdict in the case they have just heard. The jury first elects a foreman who will see to it that discussion is conducted in a sensible and orderly fashion, that all issues are fully and fairly discussed, and that every juror is given a fair chance to participate.

When a verdict has been reached, the foreman signs it and informs the bailiff. The jury/returns to the courtroom, where the foreman presents the verdict. The judge then discharges the jury from the case.

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