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General Trial Procedures

General Trial Procedures

Welcome to Fresno Superior Court Civil General Trial Procedures page.To view written Trial Procedures please select from the following:

Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan

Clerk: Estela Alvarado
Bailiff: Carlos Cruz
Telephone: (559) 457-6316
Fax: (559) 457-1624

Schedule:

Morning trial sessions will begin at 8:30am for counsel and 9:00am for jurors. A lunch break will be taken at 12:00. The afternoon session will begin at 1:30. Evening recess will be taken at 4:15 Monday through Wednesday. During trial, the Law and Motion Calendar will be heard on Thursdays so evening recess will be at 3:00 on that day. Fridays are dark for trial purposes. These times are subject to modification based upon other calendars that may need to be completed by the Court and the progress of the trial. Counsel is expected to be punctual and ready to proceed on time. This includes having witnesses available when needed. No continuances or delays will be permitted due to witness unavailability. If counsel does not have witnesses available to testify it is the equivalent of resting.

Exhibits:

  1. Exhibits shall be exchanged between counsel before commencement of trial and must be pre-marked; preferably in the anticipated order or presentation to the extent possible. Trial will not begin until this is completed.
  2. All exhibits, regardless of who marks them, shall be marked in numerical order. The exhibits must be separated by tabs indicating their number.
  3. Photographs shall be marked as separate exhibits.
  4. Counsel shall jointly prepare a single, joint exhibit list which accurately describes each exhibit being marked.
  5. Exhibits shall be provided to the court in one or more binders, as necessary.
  6. Counsel shall meet and confer before trial to agree upon foundational issues, and to stipulate to the admissibility of exhibits to the extent possible. The specific objection and which party is objecting shall be listed next to the description of the exhibit on the joint exhibit list. If objections are not noted on the joint exhibit list, objections may be waived. This must be submitted to the court prior to the parties calling their first witness.
  7. Counsel may not show an exhibit to a witness for any purpose unless it has been pre-marked for identification.
  8. Absent a stipulation, counsel may not display any exhibit to the jury unless it has been received into evidence.

Courtroom Practice:

  1. 21 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 section 222.5 will be strictly enforced with or without objection from opposing counsel. Challenges for cause will be expressed in the hallway after all counsel has completed their voir dire.
  2. Hardships are not entertained in open court before the prospective panel. The court will inquire if any among the panel believe they have a hardship. Any potential juror who so believes will be examined by the court and counsel individually and on the record in the court’s anteroom.
  3. The court’s preferred practice is to select a jury which includes the twelve members and the number of “alternates” agreed upon at the pretrial conference as one group. The number of preemptory challenges each party receives will be discussed and agreed to prior to beginning jury selection. Alternate jurors are chosen at random at the close of the case, just prior to deliberation.
  4. Counsel may walk through the well and approach witnesses to discuss exhibits without permission. Ask before you approach the bench. Otherwise you are free to move about the courtroom.
  5. Counsel must jointly prepare and provide the clerk with a list of prospective witnesses and put the names on the Elmo machine for jury selection. Alternatively, counsel may submit a thumb drive or other disc with the prospective witnesses' names for display to the jury.
  6. Counsel must identify which witnesses will be testifying each day. Counsel must notify opposing counsel which witnesses will be called the next day before leaving the courtroom for the day.
  7. Speaking objections are not permitted, nor is argument regarding objections 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.
  8. Jury instructions and verdict forms must be submitted before the second week of trial, or on the second day of trial if the trial is expected to last less than one week. 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.
  9. Counsel shall 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 first giving the court and opposing counsel notice of each page and line reference intending to be read. Certified copies are acceptable as long as the parties so stipulate.
  10. 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. Failure to comply with this rule may result in counsel waiving objections to the testimony.
  11. A short, non-argumentative statement of the case for reading to the jury during jury selection must be jointly filed at the same time as motions in limine are filed. Alternatively, counsel may prepare and deliver a brief (less than 5 minutes) mini-opening to the jury prior to selection.
  12. 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 time
  13. THE COURT DOES NOT PROVIDE A COURT REPORTER. COUNSEL MUST MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO HIRE A COURT REPORTER IF THEY WANT A COURT REPORTER FOR THE TRIAL. Please see the Fresno Superior Court website for information regarding securing court reporters for trial.

 

Judge D. Tyler Tharpe

Clerk:  Sonia Nunez
Bailiff: J. Espinoza
Telephone: (559) 457-6309
Fax: (559) 457-1624

  1. Trial Schedule. Trial may or may not be in session on Fridays, depending on the case. Each morning trial will commence at 8:30 for counsel and 9:00 for jurors. A lunch break will be taken at 12:00. The afternoon session will commence at 1:30. Evening recess will generally be taken at 3:15, depending on the court’s other calendars and the progress of the trial. All days and times are subject to change and the court will endeavor to provide ample notice of any changes. Counsel are expected to be punctual and ready to proceed on time.
  2. Trial Time Estimates. At the outset of the pretrial conference, in order to facilitate an accurate time estimate for the jury venire, the parties must file a Joint Statement re Trial Time Estimates (or separate statements if unable to agree), setting forth:
    1. A witness list with the name of each witness to be called on direct and the number of hours of direct examination that will be required for each witness, and
    2. The total number of hours of cross-examination and re-direct examination contemplated for each witness.
  3. Exhibits.
    • At the outset of the pretrial conference, all exhibits must be exchanged between counsel and submitted to the clerk.
    • Exhibits should be pre-marked in the anticipated order of presentation.
    • All exhibits, regardless of who marks them, shall be marked in numerical order.
    • Multiple page exhibits must be separately bound or included under a separate tab in a binder and each page must be separately numbered.
    • The court does not separate, nor receive into evidence, part of an exhibit. For example, if Exhibit 1 has 50 pages, the court will not entertain a motion to receive into evidence page 27 of that exhibit. Preplanning should and does prevent most of these circumstances. However, should counsel find that they are in the above situation, they should have 5 extra copies of “page 27” ready, which will be presented to the clerk and offered as the “next in order.”
    • Duplicate sets of exhibits must be prepared for each counsel, the court, the clerk and the witness.
    • Photographs shall be Bates-stamped, presented in clear slip-covers or 3-hole punched so that they may be placed in an exhibit binder.
    • Counsel must jointly prepare a single exhibit list which accurately describes each exhibit submitted to the clerk.
    • To the extent possible, counsel must meet and confer before trial to agree upon foundational issues.
    • Counsel may not show an exhibit to a witness for any purpose unless and until it has been marked for identification.
    • Absent a stipulation or permission of the court, counsel may not display any exhibit to the jury unless it has first been received into evidence.
  4. Witness Lists. At the outset of the pretrial conference, counsel must provide to the court a jointly prepared list of prospective witnesses in an electronic format suitable for the court to manipulate for eventual publication to the jury panel during voir dire.
  5. Witness Scheduling. 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 strongly encourages counsel to 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.
  6. Unusual Legal Issues or Evidentiary Matters. 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. All such matters must be raised outside the presence of the jury before being asked in the jury’s presence.
  7. Factual Stipulations. Counsel should meet and confer as to all possible factual stipulations on uncontroverted matters.
  8. Jury Selection.
    • 21 prospective jurors will be seated for voir dire. Voir dire has specific and limited purposes. CCP §222.5 will be strictly enforced with or without objection. Among other things, §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.” If you believe you have a cause challenge, the response to the court’s question of “pass for cause?” is simply “no.” Challenges for cause will be expressed in the anteroom behind the courtroom after all counsel have completed questioning.
    • Hardships are not entertained in open court before the jury panel. At the commencement of voir dire, the court will inquire if any among the panel believe they have a hardship. Any potential juror who so believes will be examined by the court individually and on the record in the court’s anteroom.
  9. Alternate Juror(s). Absent an objection stated on the record, the court will seat any required alternate juror(s) and identify them as such at random immediately before the jury retires for deliberation
  10. Well Access. After first approaching a witness with permission, counsel may subsequently walk through the well and approach witnesses without permission if a need to approach is presented (e.g., assisting a witness with a document, etc.). Counsel is not allowed to linger in the well while questioning.
  11. Objections. Speaking objections or argument regarding objections are not permitted unless invited by the court. State the legal objection only. Counsel must never suggest to any witness, with a speech appended to an objection, what the witness should say or has forgotten to say.
  12. 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.
  13. Recess Recitals and Admonitions. Unless the court states otherwise on the record, it will be assumed that counsel agree to the following:
    1. Whenever the court is in session, all jurors, alternates and counsel are present; and
    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 at each subsequent recess or adjournment repeat or remind the jury of this admonition.
  14. Lodging Deposition Transcripts. Before reading from any deposition transcript, counsel must lodge with the clerk the original of the deposition transcript to be read from.
  15. Reading Deposition Testimony. If portions of deposition transcripts are anticipated to be read to the jury, counsel are expected to meet and confer in advance regarding any objections that will be offered to any such testimony so as not to take up the time of the jury. If objections to any of the testimony are raised, they must be addressed outside of the presence of the jury. No reading from deposition transcripts (even for the purpose of impeachment) is permitted without reasonable advance notice of each page and line reference to the court and other counsel.
  16. Mini-Openings or Statement of the Case. The court prefers that each counsel delivers a brief mini-opening of the case at the time they introduce themselves and their client(s) to the jury panel. In the alternative, at the outset of the pretrial conference counsel must submit to the court a short, jointly prepared and neutral statement of the case for reading to the jury panel during jury selection.
  17. Court Reporter. The parties are responsible for arranging for and paying for a court reporter in the event a court reporter is desired. See the Fresno County Superior Court website for information on securing a court reporter for trial.
  18. Court Fees. All court fees, including jury fees and mileage, must be paid before the jury is sworn.
  19. Cumulative Questioning. Questions like these 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.
  20. Sidebars. Bench conferences are generally not permitted and hallway conferences are strongly discouraged. No record is made of such conferences unless counsel timely requests it.
  21. Stipulations. 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 jury’s presence.
  22. Settlement. The court is always willing to assist with settlement if the parties collectively agree and can do so without subjecting the jury to unnecessary delay.

Judge Rosemary T. McGuire

Clerk:  Sam X. Garcia
Bailiff:  S. Kem
Telephone: (559) 457-6319
Fax: (559) 457-1624

  1. Schedule:
    Morning trial sessions will generally begin at 9:00 a.m.  A lunch break will be taken at 12:00 p.m. The afternoon session will begin at 1:30 p.m.  The evening recess will be taken at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the evening recess will be taken at 3:20 p.m. Friday’s are dark for trial purposes. These times are subject to modification based upon other calendars that may need to be completed by the court and the progress of the trial. Counsel is expected to be punctual and ready to proceed on time. This includes having witnesses available when needed.
  2. Exhibits:
    1. Exhibits must be exchanged between counsel before commencement of trial and should be pre-marked in the anticipated order and form of presentation. All exhibits, regardless of who marks them, will be marked in numerical order. Counsel should meet and confer before trial to agree upon foundational issues, to the extent possible.
    2. The court should be provided with 5 sets of exhibits from each proponent as follows: (1) Official; (2) Court; (3) Witness; (4) Opposing Counsel; and (5) Proponent.
    3. Exhibits will not be marked by the court until counsel request it or they are shown to a witness.
    4. Multiple page exhibits must be separately bound or included under a separate tab in a binder and each page must be separately numbered.
    5. Photographs shall be Bates-Stamped, present in a clear slip cover or 3 hole punched so they may be placed in a an exhibit binder.
    6. Counsel shall jointly prepare a single, joint exhibit list which accurately describes each exhibit submitted to the court.
    7. Absent stipulation or the permission of the court, counsel may not display any exhibit to the jury unless it has first been received into evidence.
  3. Witnesses:
    Counsel should provide the clerk and the reporter with a list of prospective witnesses and put the names of potential witnesses on display on the screen for jury selection.
    1. Counsel may walk through the well and approach witnesses without permission.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 of a problem which may cause a delay with the trial, so that arrangements can be made for a special appearance of other witnesses out of order. Counsel are to inform each other at the end of the trial day who their witnesses will be for the following day.
    4. Witnesses who are excused by the court following their testimony are not subject to recall unless requested by counsel for good cause shown pursuant to Evidence Code Section 778.
  4. Jury Selection:

    If the issue of hardship arises during voir dire, the potential juror who raises the issue will be examined by the court (and counsel) individually and on the record in the court’s anteroom.

    1. 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, and 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.
    2. Hardships are not entertained in open court before the entire panel. The court will provide a hardship questionnaire to the prospective jurors, while they are still in the Jury Assembly Room. The prospective jurors are to review and complete the form. Once the form is completed, they will be provided to the court for review. The court may dismiss some of the prospective jurors based on the hardship form or the court may decide to speak with the jurors outside of the courtroom.
    3. 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 that relevancy grounds, the objections 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 filed in and any irrelevant portions redacted.
    4. The court selects a jury which includes the twelve members and the number of “alternates” agreed upon at the pretrial conference. The number of preemptory challenges each party receives will be discussed and agreed to prior to selection beginning.
    5. Counsel should discuss and inform the court if willing to enter into either or both of the following stipulations:
      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 at each subsequent recess or adjournment repeat or remind the jury of this admonition.
    6. Counsel may prepare and deliver a brief, mini-opening to the jury prior to jury selection. In the alternative, a short, non-argumentative statement of the case for reading to the jury prior to jury selection must be jointly filed.
  5. Other Trial Information:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. The Court does not provide a court reporter. Counsel are responsible for arranging for and paying for a court reporter if they want a court reporter for the trial.
    5. Jury fees and mileage are to be paid no later than the last day of trial before the reading of the verdict.
    6. Bench conference are generally not permitted and hallway conference are strongly discouraged. No record is made of such conference unless counsel requests it at the following recess.
    7. 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 jury’s presence.

The Court is always willing to assist with settlement if the parties collectively agree and can do so without subjecting the jury to unnecessary delay.

Judge Kimberly A. Gaab

Clerk:  Flo Braun
Bailiff:  Eddie Martinez
Telephone: (559) 457-6320
Fax: (559) 457-1624

 

  1. Schedule:

    Morning trial sessions will generally commence at 9:00 a.m. A lunch break will be taken at 12:00 p.m. Afternoon sessions will commence at 1:30 p.m. Evening recesses will generally be taken at 4:15 p.m. on Mondays and at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays to accommodate the court’s law and motion calendar. Trial is not in session on Fridays. These times are subject to modification based upon other calendars that may need to be completed by the court and the progress of the trial. Counsel are expected to be punctual and to have witnesses available when needed.

  2. Exhibits:
    • All exhibits must 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 numerical order.
    • Multiple-page exhibits must be separately bound or included under a separate tab in a binder and each page must be separately numbered.
    • Exhibit sets, in one or more binders as necessary, shall be prepared for each counsel, the court, the clerk, and the witness and must be submitted at the start of trial.
    • Photographs shall be Bates-stamped, presented in clear slipcovers or three-hole punched so that they may be placed in an exhibit binder.
    • Counsel shall jointly prepare a single exhibit list that accurately describes each exhibit submitted to the court.
    • 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 stipulation or permission of the court, counsel may not display any exhibit to the jury unless it has first been received into evidence.
  3. Jury Selection:

    Generally, 21 prospective jurors will be seated for voir dire.  Voir dire has specific and limited purposes.  Code of Civil Procedure section 222.5 will be strictly enforced, with or without objection from opposing counsel.  Challenges for cause will be expressed in the hallway behind the courtroom after all counsel have completed questioning.

  4. Jury Instruction 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 to which there are objections.  If objections are made to any jury instruction 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 and have all blanks properly completed and irrelevant portions redacted.

  5. Witnesses:
    • Counsel should provide the clerk and any court reporter with a list of prospective witnesses and identify the names of potential witnesses on the board/overhead projector for jury selection.
    • Counsel may walk through the well and approach witnesses without permission.
    • Speaking objections and argument regarding objections are not permitted unless invited by the court.  Only legal objections shall be stated.  In addition, counsel should never suggest to any witness, with a speech appended to the objection, what the witness should say or has forgotten to say.
    • 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 . . . ?”  Such questions are cumulative and unnecessarily consume time.  The court may intervene, even without objection, if such questions are asked.
    • Counsel have 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.  Counsel are 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.
  6. Other Trial Information:
    • Counsel should discuss and inform the court if willing to stipulate to the following:
      •   Unless otherwise noted on the record, whenever court is in session, all jurors,   alternates and counsel are present.
      •   Waiving the statutory language of the admonition to the jury at separation (Code of   Civil Procedure section 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 this admonition.
    • Counsel are to jointly file a short, non-argumentative statement of the case for reading to the jury during jury selection.  Alternatively, counsel may agree to prepare and deliver a brief, mini-opening statement to the jury prior to jury selection.
    • 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.
    • 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 such testimony.  Objections are to be addressed outside the presence of the jury.
    • Counsel should meet and confer as to all possible factual stipulations on uncontroverted matters.  While the court appreciates stipulations as to the admissibility of exhibits or other evidence, stipulations should never be offered by counsel in the presence of the jury unless previously discussed with opposing counsel and the court.
    • 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 unnecessary delays. 
    • 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. 
    • Counsel are responsible for arranging and paying for a court reporter.  See the Fresno County Superior Court website for information on securing a court reporter for trial.
    • Jury fees and mileage are to be paid not later than the last day of trial before reading of the verdict.
  7. The court is always willing to assist with settlement if the parties collectively agree and do not subject the jury to unnecessary delays.

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