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Browsing in Civil > General Trial Procedures > Judge M. Bruce Smith

Judge M. B. Smith

  Judge M. Bruce Smith


L. Whipple
Cynthia Hauser

Effective June 27, 2012, court reporters [CSR’s] are no longer provided by the court for civil trials or law and motion matters. A Court reporter directory, list of guidelines and forms may be obtained on the Court’s Website:

  1. Schedule:
    Trial days are Monday through Thursday, generally beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. on Monday and ending at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. Fridays are dark unless the jury is in deliberation or time constraints dictate it necessary to meet an extra day during the week. These times are subject to modification based upon court needs and other calendars.
  2. All Counsel are expected to be punctual and ready to proceed on time.
  3. Exhibits:
    • Exhibits shall be exchanged between all counsel before commencement of trial and should be pre-marked in the anticipated order of presentation. Absent unforeseen circumstances, exhibits are to be marked outside the presence of the jury either at the beginning of the day or prior to resuming trial at 1:30 pm.
    • All exhibits, no matter which side marks them, shall be marked in numerical order. Counsel shall meet and confer before trial to agree upon foundational issues, and admissibility to the extent possible.
    • 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.
    • Counsel may not show any exhibit to a witness for any purpose unless it has been pre-marked for identification. Absent stipulation, counsel may not display any exhibit to the jury unless it has first been received into evidence.
  4. Counsel shall provide the clerk and reporter with a list of prospective witnesses and post the names of potential witnesses on the screen prior to jury selection.
  5. 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.
  6. Counsel should meet and confer as to all possible factual stipulations on uncontroverted matters.
  7. 18 prospective jurors will be seated for voir dire. Voir dire has specific and limited purposes. These do not include instructing the jury on the law or ingratiating counsel or counsel’s side with the jurors. CCP § 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 court after all counsel have completed their voir dire.
  8. Counsel may walk through the well and approach witnesses to discuss exhibits without permission.
  9. Speaking objections and 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.
  10. Jury Instructions:
    A list of all CACI Jury instructions and copies of all special instructions are to be provided to the court prior to the first witness being called. Any special instructions being offered are to be presented to the court in electronic format, preferably in Word. A working copy of the verdict form must be submitted electronically by plaintiff by the close of their case. Counsel are expected to meet and confer at least once prior to the end of plaintiff’s case to discuss jury instructions and the verdict form. Following their “meet and confer” counsel are to provide a list of instructions they agree are to be given, a list of those instructions they agree are not to be given and those to which there is a dispute that cannot be worked out amongst counsel. If objections are made to any jury instructions on other than relevancy grounds, the objecting party must also submit an instruction that they believe to be non-objectionable.
  11. Counsel should discuss and inform the court if willing to stipulate as follows:
    1. Unless otherwise noted on the record, whenever the court is in session, all jurors, alternates, and counsel are present.
    2. 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 repeat it at each recess or adjournment.
  12. Counsel should lodge with the clerk all depositions to be used in the trial. No reading from depositions (other than for impeachment) is permitted without reasonable notice of each page and line reference to the court and other counsel.
  13. Motions in Limine must be in writing.
  14. A short, non-argumentative neutral statement of the case for reading to the jury during jury selection must be jointly filed unless the parties agree to give “Mini Opening Statements”.
  15. Court reporter and jury fees are to be posted on Thursday of each week for that current week. Attorneys are responsible for providing proof of payment in the form of a receipt to Layla Whipple or the substituting JA each Monday prior to commencing trial. If a transcript is requested by any party, this fee is separate from the Court Reporter fees and is payable directly the Court Reporter.
  16. Witnesses must be available when needed. Witnesses should be standing by at all times. No delays or continuances will be permitted due to witness unavailability. Counsel to inform the court immediately of any witness-scheduling problem. If counsel does not comply with this procedure and there are no witnesses available to testify it is the equivalent of “resting.”
  17. Witnesses who are excused by the court following their testimony are not subject to recall unless requested by counsel or for good cause shown. (Evidence Code §778.)
  18. 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.
  19. 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.