|| Judge Donald S. Black
Schedule. Morning trial sessions will generally commence at 9:00. A
lunch break will be taken at 12:00. The afternoon session will
commence at 1:30. Evening recess will generally be taken at 3:30,
depending on the Court's law and motion calendar. These times are
subject to modification based upon other calendars, which may need
to be completed by the department and the progress of the trial.
Counsel are expected to be punctual and ready to proceed on time.
Witnesses. Counsel should provide the clerk and the reporter with a
list of prospective witnesses and put the names of potential witnesses
on the board for jury selection.
The Court should be informed in advance, if possible, of any unusual
legal issues or evidentiary matters that are anticipated during the trial
in order to avoid any unnecessary delays for the jury. "Unusual
evidentiary matters" include, but are not limited to, any question about
prior criminal activity, which must be raised outside the presence of
the jury before being asked in the jury's presence.
Counsel should meet and confer as to all possible factual stipulations
on uncontroverted matters.
Jury Selection. 21 prospective jurors will be seated for voir dire.
Voir dire has specific and limited purposes. CCP Section 222.5 will
be strictly enforced with or without objection from opposing counsel.
Among other things, Section 222.5 provides: "For purposes of this
section, an 'improper question' is any question which, as its dominant
purpose, attempts to precondition the prospective jurors to a particular
result, indoctrinate the jury, or question the prospective jurors
concerning the pleadings or the applicable law." Challenges for cause
will be expressed in the hallway behind the courtroom after all
counsel have completed questioning.
Counsel may walk through the well and approach witnesses without
Speaking objections or argument regarding objections are not
permitted unless invited by the court. State the legal objection only.
Likewise, counsel should never suggest to any witness, with a speech
appended to the objection, what the witness should say or has
forgotten to say.
Jury Instructions and Verdict Forms. Jury instructions and verdict forms must be submitted before the first witness is called. Counsel must meet and confer and submit a packet of all requested instructions to which there is no objection and a separate packet of instructions as to which there are objections. If objections are made to any jury instructions on other than relevancy grounds, the objecting party must also submit an instruction that is believed to be non-objectionable. Each instruction must indicate the party or parties requesting it, all blanks must be filled in and any irrelevant portions redacted.
Unless the court is informed otherwise, it will be assumed that counsel
agree to the following:
- Exhibits shall be exchanged between counsel before
commencement of trial and should be pre-marked in the
anticipated order of presentation.
- All exhibits, regardless of who marks them, shall be marked in
- Photographs shall be presented in clear slip-covers or 3-hole
punched so that they may be placed in an exhibit binder.
- Counsel shall jointly prepare a single, joint exhibit list which
accurately describes each exhibit being marked.
- Exhibits shall be provided to the court in one or more binders,
- Counsel shall meet and confer before trial to agree upon
foundational issues, to the extent possible.
- Counsel may not show an exhibit to a witness for any purpose
unless it has been pre-marked for identification.
- Absent a stipulation, counsel may not display any exhibit to the
jury unless it has first been received into evidence.
Counsel should lodge with the clerk all depositions to be used in the
trial. No reading from depositions (other than for purposes of
impeachment) is permitted without reasonable notice of each page and
line reference to the court and other counsel.
A short, non-argumentative statement of the case for reading to the
jury during jury selection must be jointly filed.
Counsel are responsible for arranging for and paying for a court
Jury fees and mileage are to be paid not later than the last day of trial
before reading of verdict.
Counsel has full responsibility to arrange for the appearance of
witnesses during the presentation of their case so as to eliminate any
possible delay in the proceedings. The Court suggests that counsel
confer during trial as to when witnesses are needed. Counsel are
expected to inform the court immediately upon discovering a problem
with scheduling that might delay the trial so that arrangements can be
made for the appearance of other witnesses out of order. If counsel
does not comply with this procedure and there are no witnesses
available to testify it is equivalent to resting. Counsel are required to
inform each other at the end of the trial day who their witnesses will
be for the following day.
Witnesses who are excused by the court following their testimony are
not subject to recall unless requested by counsel or for good cause
shown pursuant to Evidence Code Section 778.
If deposition transcripts are to be read to the jury counsel are expected
to meet and confer in advance regarding any objections that will be
offered to any of such testimony so as not to take up the time of the
court or the jury. If objections to any of the testimony are raised, they
must be addressed outside of the jury's presence and without
inconveniencing the jury.
The following questions are generally not permitted: "Didn't you
testify yesterday that . . . ?" "Didn't you just testify that . . .?" "Were
you in court when John Doe testified that . . . ?" The jury has already
heard what the witness testified to and, thus, these questions are
cumulative and unnecessarily consumptive of time. The court may
intervene even without objection if such questions are asked.
Bench conferences are generally not permitted and hallway
conferences are strongly discouraged. No record is made of such
conferences unless counsel requests it at the following recess.
While the Court always appreciates stipulations as to admissibility of
exhibits or other evidence, stipulations should never be offered by
counsel in the presence of the jury unless counsel has previously
discussed the stipulation with counsel and the court outside of the
The Court is always willing to assist with settlement.
- Unless otherwise noted on the record, whenever the court is in
session, all jurors, alternates, and counsel are present.
- Waiving the statutory language of the admonition to the jury at
separation (CCP 611) so that after the Court gives the required
admonition at the outset of the trial, it need not at each
subsequent recess or adjournment repeat or remind the jury of