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Judge D. Tyler Tharpe

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Judge D. Tyler Tharpe
Clerk: Bailiff: J. Espinoza Telephone: Fax: (559) 457-6309 (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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Court Fees. All court fees, including jury fees and mileage, must be paid before the jury is sworn.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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