Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
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Class Activity -
The Trial of Goldilocks

Page Contents:
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Assessment and Time Line
The Trial
Officers of the Court
Characteristics of a Trial
A Trial With a Jury
How the Jury is Selected
How the Oath is Taken
How the Evidence is Presented
How the Verdict is Reached
What to Do Before Going to Court
How to Dress for a Trial
Courtroom Demeanor
Testifying in Court
Trial Tactics Used By Attorneys
Common Trial Objections
Courtroom Definitions

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time there were three bears who lived in a house in the forest. There was a great big father bear, a middle-sized mother bear, and a tiny little baby bear.

One morning, their breakfast porridge was too hot to eat, so they went for a walk in the forest. While they were out, a little girl called Goldilocks came through the trees and found their house. She knocked on the the door and, as there was not answer, she pushed it open and went in.

In front of her was a table withe three chairs, one great big chair, one middle-sized chair, and one tiny little chair. On the table were three bowls of porridge, one great big bowl, one middle-sized bowl, and one tiny little bowl - and three spoons.

Goldilocks was hugnry, so she sat in the great big chair, picked up the biggest spoon and tried some of the porridge from the great big bowl. But the chair was far too big and hard, the spoon was too heavy, and the porridge too hot.

So Goldilocks went over to the middle-sized chair. But this chair was far too soft, and when she tried the porridge from the middle-sized bowl it was too cold. So she went over to the tiny little chair and picked up the smallest spoon and tried some of the porridge from the tiny little bowl.

This time it was neither too hot nor too cold. It was just right - and so delicious that Goldilocks ate it all up. But she was too heavy for the tiny little chair and it broke in pieces.

Then Goldilocks went upstairs, where she found three beds. There was a great big bed, a middle-sized bed, and a tiny little bed. First she lay down on the great big bed, but it was very big and far too hard. Next she lay down on the middle-sized bed, but that was far too soft. Then she lay down on the tiny little bed. It was neither too hard nor too soft. In fact, it felt just right, and Goldilocks fell fast asleep.

In a little while, the three bears came back from their walk in the forest.

Father Bear looked around, then roared in a great big growly voice, "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"

Mother Bear said in a queit gentle voice, "Somebody has been sitting in my chair!"

And Little Bear said in a small squeaky baby voice, "Somebody has been sitting in my chair, and has broken it!"

Then Father Bear looked at his bowl of porridge and said in his great big growly voice, "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN EATING MY PORRIDGE!" Mother Bear looked at her bowl and said in her quiet gentle voice, "Somebody has been eating my porridge!" And Little Bear looked at his bowl and said in his small squeaky baby voice, "Somebody has beeen eating my porridge, and has eaten it all up!"

Then the three bears went upstairs. Father Bear saw at once htat his bed was unmade, and he said in his great big growly voice, "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED!" Mother Bear saw that her bed, too, had the bedclothes turned back, and she said in her quiet gentle voice, "Somebody has been sleeping in my bed!" And Little Bear looked at his bed, and he said in his small squeaky baby voice, "Somebody is sleeping in my bed, NOW!"

He squeaked so loudly that Goldilocks woke up with a start. She jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs and out into the forest.

And the three bears never saw her again.

Assessment and Time Line

In a trial situation the process must come to you automatically. For this reason we will have periodic quizzes over lecture material and handouts. These will not be a surprise; you will have at least one day’s notice.

Class participation and teamwork are critical to the success of this unit. For this reason there will be 200 points possible in this area.

Witnesses will submit a type two-page statement as a rough draft. Witnesses will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be critiqued, graded then returned. 200 points. Due date: ______________

Witnesses will then submit a typed three page final draft. Witnesses will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be graded and bound for a class record of the trial. 500 points. Due date: ______________

Police/ DNA need to obtain official police reports and fingerprint cards. You will also submit a type two-page statement as a rough draft. Witnesses will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be critiqued, graded then returned. Be sure to included interviews evidence and the like. 200 points. Due date: ______________

Police/DNA will then submit a typed three page final draft. Witnesses will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be graded and bound for a class record of the trial. 500 points. Due date: ______________

Attorneys will submit a typed two-page copy of your opening/closing statements and questions you plan to ask witnesses. What will your game plan be? Strategy? Attorneys will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be critiqued, graded then returned. Due date: ______________

Attorneys will then submit a typed three page final draft. Witnesses will give one copy to your team and one copy to Mr. Sedivy. This will be graded and bound for a class record of the trial. 500 points. Due date: ______________

The trial will be video taped so we can evaluate your successes through peer and self-evaluation. 500 points.

BONUS: 100 points will be awarded to the winning team. If there is a hung jury neither side will receive bonus points.

Gold E. Locks will be arrested, fingerprinted, and charged: ______________

Trial by judge will be held: ______________

Trial by jury will be held: ______________

The Trial


Elected by the voters or appointed by the governor of the state. Vested with the authority to listen to and decide questions of criminal and civil law. The judge supervises the trial and bears the responsibility that the parties receive a fair trial.

An attorney appointed by a majority vote of the municipal court judges to perform "subordinate" judicial duties (e.g., hear and determine a small claims case, conduct arraignment proceedings, as a traffic referee, marriages, etc.)

An attorney appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court to serve on a full- or part-time basis. A referee hears and determines juvenile matters.

A person licensed to practice law. Employed privately by individuals or business entities or by the government (offices of the Attorney General, District Attorney, Public Defender, or County Counsel) to prepare and present cases.

In a criminal case, the people of the state of Colorado are represented-sentenced by the District Attorney or the Attorney General's Office. They present evidence and must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused may: 1) retain (at his/her own expense) a private attorney; 2) be represented by an attorney from the Office of the Public Defender, if s/he does not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney; or 3) request that the Court appoint a private defense attorney in the event that the Public Defender is for any reason disqualified. An accused person may choose to represent him/her-self, but can ask the Court to appoint an attorney to assist him/her in presenting his/her case if s/he cannot afford his/her own. However, an attorney may not be forced to be co-counsel.

In civil cases, usually each party will hire his/her own attorney, but s/he may represent him/herself.

An officer of the Court assigned to enforce and monitor terms of formal probation ordered by the Court. S/he is also mandated to prepare pre-sentence reports and recommendations in accordance with Colorado Penal Code and the Judicial Council rules. In certain jurisdictions, the probation officer appears in Court as a representative of the probation department to offer reports and recommendations. She/he is usually of probation hearings.

Handles administrative functions of the courtroom. Maintains a court file of each case; administers the oath to witnesses, jurors, bailiff and court interpreters; marks, records and stores exhibits presented to the Court; and maintains by minute order the records of the Court proceeding(s).

Maintains an official verbatim record of the Court proceedings (must be present at all felony criminal, juvenile and some civil cases). Prepares written transcripts upon request.

Usually a deputy sheriff, deputy marshal or correctional officer responsible for keeping order in the courtroom. S/he has custody of the jury during its deliberation(s).


In a criminal case:
• The defendant(s) may give up his/her right to be tried by a jury.
• The defendant is only entitled to a jury trial if s/he can receive a jail or prison sentence.
• If and only if the prosecutor agrees, a judge will hear the evidence and decide the case.

In a civil case (e.g., marital dissolution’s, probate, injunctions, contract disputes, personal injury matters and juvenile cases):
• Court hearings are decided by a judge and not a jury.
• In some civil cases, where the plaintiff or victim is seeking a money judgment for damages or where mental competency is at issue, the parties may elect to have their case decided by either a judge or a jury.

In a criminal case, the jury:
• Hears the evidence.
• Decides issues of fact.
• Decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the charges filed by the district attorney.
• In a case where a reasonable doubt exists in the jury's mind, they will return a verdict of"not guilty."
• If the jury does not reach a verdict: 1) the Court will declare a mistrial, or upon its own motion, dismiss the case in the interest of justice; 2) the case may be dismissed by the district attorney; or 3) the defendant may be tried by another jury at the discretion of the district attorney.

In a civil case, the jury determines:
• If the plaintiff has been damaged or wronged by the action(s) of the defendant(s).
• This determination must include three (3) basic issues: liability, proximate cause and damages, which must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
• The amount of money or damages to be awarded to the victim.
• You must note that a finding of liability must precede the ascertainment of damages.
• The mental competence of the respondent party to care for him/herself.

The jury:
• Consists of twelve (12) fair and impartial citizens. However, the parties can stipulate to a fewer number of jurors. Also, one (1) or more alternate jurors may be selected.
• Is selected by the attorneys and the judge.
• Is sworn by the court clerk to try the case.
• Receives instructions from the judge on the law and their duties as jurors.

• Give the clerk your undivided attention when being sworn.
• Do not raise your hand to take the oath until requested to do so by the clerk.
• Maintain the dignity of the Court.
• Avoid joking around.
• Avoid off-handed remarks.

NOTE: The Oath that you will take as a witness to testify in a case will closely resemble the following: "You do solemnly swear that the testimony you shall give in this cause now before the Court, to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

• The attorneys for both sides make an opening statement detailing what their evidence will show.
• The district attorney (or the plaintiffs attorney in a civil case) will go first because s/he has the burden of proving his/her case.
• Evidence that the attorneys present may often include:
• Witness testimony offered from anyone who has personal knowledge of facts.
• Exhibits such as drugs, broken chair, burglary tools, weapons, pictures or documents.
• Stipulations offered by all the attorneys to accept certain facts as evidence without further proof in order to reduce the amount of trial time.
• When all the evidence has been submitted to the Court the attorneys sum up the case, as they see it, to the jury. This is called a closing argument.
• It gives the attorneys a chance to try to persuade the jury panel to decide the case in their client's favor.
• The district attorney (or the plaintiffs attorney in a civil case) will argue the case to the jury first, and last in rebuttal, because s/he has the burden of proving their case.

The jury
• Is instructed by the judge on the law.
• Retires to deliberate by applying the law to the facts of the case.

In a criminal case:
All twelve (12)jurors must agree that guilt has been established "beyond a reasonable doubt."

In a civil case:
It only takes three-fourths of the jurors to reach a verdict based
upon a preponderance of the evidence.

• Check your clothing and appearance
• Review your records.
• Personal notes and reports.
• Photos, video tapes of the scene, exhibits and other objects (seized and marked by you and held as evidence) and any transcripts of your previous courtroom testimony. (Report early or at least on time to: The office of the district attorney who subpoenaed you.
• Review the case with that attorney.
• Express your concerns about the case and/or fears about your testimony to the attorney before the trial.
• If you do have a "skeleton" in your closet, tell your attorney before your court hearing so that s/he may evaluate it.

The Courtroom
• Find out where the witness room or waiting area is located.
• Failure to respond on time to a lawful subpoena may result in a contempt of court charge against you or a dismissal of the action against the defendant/respondent, or a warrant for your arrest.
• Remain at that location until you are called as a witness. If you must temporarily leave for any reason, tell the bailiff or a member of the Court staff where you are going and when you will return. It is very important to review the case before the Court hearing to "tie up loose ends" and refresh your memory.

• Dress like a professional.
• Dress conservatively and, when appropriate, wear good quality clothing.
• If you have a choice, always dress as well as the other people who may appear in court.
• Avoid wearing loud colors.
• Remember that the "good guys" never wear black.
• Always be neat and clean.
• Avoid putting anything on your hair that makes it shine or appear greasy.
• Avoid wearing tinted or dark colored glasses in the courtroom.
• People will not believe you if they cannot see your eyes.
• Wear only functional jewelry (e.g., wedding ring and wrist watch).
• Large bracelets, rings, cufflinks, tie tacks and earrings are distracting to the jury.
• Avoid wearing items that may identify a personal association or belief. Political buttons, club pins, college rings, religious jewelry may trigger some prejudices against you in the mind of a juror.
• Dress to fit the expectations of your audience; jurors expect you to look like a professional.
• Remember that even a small flaw in your appearance will be noticed by someone on the jury and it may hurt your credibility.

Find out:
• What colors are best for you.
• What clothing styles look good on you.
• What makeup is best for you.
• How to make the most of your physical appearance.

Act like a professional.
• Your demeanor on the witness stand is an important part of your testimony.
• Avoid being perceived by the jury as silly, cocky, argumentative, bored or defensive.
• Have nothing in your pockets or on your person that "jingles" (e.g., coins, keys, earrings).
• Never chew gum or have related substances in your mouth while testifying. It interferes with clear speech. People may pay less attention to your testimony if the notice the chewing. A sudden cough or sneeze could send that substance into the courtroom.
• When not using your hands to gesture, keep them folded in your lap while seated in the witness stand.
• Remember, someone is always watching you.
• The jury will evaluate you in part by the way you act in and around a courtroom.
• Avoid crossing your arms or legs while testifying.
• This "negative" body language will be noticed by the jury.
• Remember the TV commercial phrase, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
• Never let them see you sweat.
• The jury will judge you by your actions.
• Do not speak to any of the jury panel during the trial or its recesses, to avoid the appearance of impropriety. On the other hand, when testifying, speak to the jury panel, they are your audience.
• If you must speak to the district attorney, do it before the trial or at the break, preferably out of view of the jury.
• Jurors may draw a negative inference from your private conversation.
• Be polite to the attorneys on both sides of the case. The jury and/or judge will notice any tendency on your part to favor one attorney over another.
• Show respect to all of the courtroom officials. Be particularly attentive when the judge is speaking. Listen to what s/he is saying and be prepared to respond, if necessary.
• If you are required to draw a diagram, do your art work first and then explain it.
• When your back is to the jury, they may not hear your words.
• When you are explaining a diagram, be sure to stand next t it so that you are not blocking the view of the judge, jury or attorneys.
• If you know in advance that you will be required to draw large diagram in court make every effort to complete: before court and bring it with you. Be sure to check carefully for accuracy. Let the district attorney know of your preparation.
• When drawing a diagram at the request of a court official remember to include a North compass designation for reference in your testimony.
• If you must address the Court staff, use their respective titles.
• Addressing the judge: Your Honor.
• Addressing the bailiff: "Mr. Bailiff' or Mr. Sedivy

• Tell the Truth!
• Be yourself!
• Be natural and use common language.
• Try to avoid work related jargon or slang.
• Your role is to testify, not to convince the jury.
• Speak in a clear tone of voice.
• Avoid covering your mouth or resting your chin on your hand while you arespeaking. Speak at a normal rate of speed so that the court reporter and the jury can hear your words.
• When asked a question, pause, think about the question and think about your answer before you start talking.
• Simple "yes" or "no" answers should be directed to the person who asked the question.
• Longer, narrative answers, however, should be directed to the jury (or the judge if a jury is not present).
• Answer the questions with a "yes" or "no," if possible, then explain. Be brief and on point if a narrative answer is requested
• Avoid answering any question that you do not understand completely. Ask to have the question clarified.
• I do not know or "I do not remember" are valid answers, if appropriate.
• "I do not know" means that you do not and never did know something.
• "I do not remember" means that you may have known something at some previous time, but do not remember it now.
• Use terms like "approximately" when asked for measurements of time and distance.
• Avoid appearing arrogant.
• Avoid giving the answer to a question until the attorney has finished asking it.
• Avoid allowing yourself to be talked into false testimony or affirming incorrect statements.
• Listen carefully to each question, and be sure that everything in it is true before adopting it as your own. For example: "Isn’t it true that..."
• If you realize that you have made an error in your testimony, immediately ask the judge for permission to correct the error.
• If your testimony is interrupted for any reason, stop talking.
• This is especially true when it is interrupted by a question from the judge or counsel's objection.
• Avoid being anxious to volunteer information.
• If you have any apparent interest in the outcome, your credibility may be reduced in the minds of the jury.
• Avoid testifying, reading from or otherwise referring to your report without first asking for permission from the judge to refresh your recollection by looking at it.
• Remember that all documents taken by you to the witness stand can be examined by either attorney.
• If you are asked to read a document out loud by an attorney or the judge, read it slowly so the court reporter can record your testimony.
• Remember that you cannot offer or volunteer your opinion unless you are testifying as a court qualified expert witness.
• An expert witness (e.g., a DNA expert) is entitled to express an opinion in the areas of his/her expertise.
• Do not be intimidated by the attorneys. They are simply representing their clients. Remember to only answer the question asked of you. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification if you are uncertain about a question.

Speak Up!
• Remember that everyone must hear your answers (judge, jury, court reporter, clerk, interpreters, attorneys and clients).
• Avoid answering the question with the phrase "I believe...;" "I think...; or "I am not sure...."
• You are to testify only as to what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted or felt, unless you are an expert witness qualified by the Court to give your opinion(s).

Attorneys will:
• Mispronounce or mis-state your name.
• Ignore it and answer the question just asked. Before taking the witness stand you will be asked by the clerk to state your name and spell it for the Court.
• The attorney who continually mispronounces your name will lose credibility with the jury.
• Try to get you to argue with him/her so you lose your composure.
• Your polite demeanor and calm disposition will win the hearts of the jury.
• Deliberately misstate some of your previous testimony and get you to agree with their version.
• This may cause you to become confused and disoriented.
• Listen to the question and do not allow the attorneys to put their words in your mouth.
• Quote some of your previous testimony and then ask you, "Why did you leave that out of your report?"
• If you find yourself in this spot, answer truthfully. There is a good reason for everything you do and you cannot catch everything. Your response may be similar to the following:
• "I forgot," "It did not occur to me," or "I put in the information I knew was important at the time."
• Cause you not to look at the jury, focusing your attention on him/her while you are testifying.
• Quite often an attorney will get up from his/her seat and move to a position that will cause you to stare at him/her while answering questions.
• When this happens, look at him/her as you start your narrative answer and finish your answer while looking at the jury.

Try to get you to do two (2) things at once:
• Draw a picture and
• Answer a question. If you are asked a question while you are drawing a diagram, stop drawing, face the attorney and answer the question.

• If you did not hear the whole question, say "I did not hear all of the question you asked."
• Question your professional experience and training.
• Anticipate this. Take a written record of your training experience or a resume with you to court.
• Attack your credibility as a witness through some error in your report and/or exploiting your failure to recollect the facts of the case.
• Remain calm; innocent misrecollection is not uncommon.
• Interrupt your answer to their question by asking you another question. If you are interrupted for any reason, stop talking. Likewise, do not interrupt the attorney before s/he has finished asking his/her questions.

Get you to try playing attorney by subtly placing you in position to:
• Refuse to directly answer the attorney's question(s).
• Give evasive answers.
• Pose your own question(s).
• Avoid trying to be something you are not - another attorney. Avoid giving flippant, clever ,stupid, dull, witless, candid, clumsy, obtuse, smart aleck, witty, imaginative, inventive, or sarcastic answers.
• Try to get you to speculate or testify to things that you did not actually see, hear or otherwise experience.
• You are not there to guess. You are there to tell what you know. Avoid answers such as: I suppose so "I think so," or "If you say that is correct."
• Try to get you to "fill in the gaps" by giving testimony for which you were not specifically asked.
• Avoid volunteering information. After you have completely answered the question, stop talking.
• Try to get you to guess the answer to technical questions related to your field. Even if you think you are right, never guess.
• Make a statement during cross-examination that is not a question and wait a moment or two to see if you'll react to it in front of the jury.
• Avoid falling for this trick. If there is not a question posed to you, say nothing.
• Use words like "generally," "slightly," "frequent" and "often" to avoid being specific.
• These words can mean different things to different people. Make sure that your answer Is specific, regardless of the attorney's trial tactics.
• Use words that you may not understand in an effort to embarrass you.
• If you do not fully understand the question, do not answer it. Say: "I do not understand the question." Or," I do not understand the word.
• Treat you so nicely that you will agree with him/her on the next question.
• Listen to the entire question and understand it before answering.
• Talk to you during breaks so that you will not see him/her as an adversary.
• Pretend to be reading to you from a document of some unknown origin and then ask you a question beginning with the phrase, "Is it not true that "
• Avoid believing, "If it is on that paper, it must be true."
• The document may or may not have anything to do with the case.

"Objection, your Honor, the question is ambiguous."

A question is ambiguous if:
• It may be misunderstood by the witness. It is objectionable on the ground that it may take on more than one meaning.

"Objection, your Honor, the question is argumentative."

A question is argumentative if:
• It is asked for the purpose of persuading the jury or the judge, rather than to elicit information;
• It calls for an argument in answer to an argument contained in the question; or
• It calls for no new facts, but merely asks the witness to concede to inferences drawn by the examiner from proved or assumed facts.

"Objection, your Honor, the question has been asked and answered."

A question may be objectionable on the ground that:
• The witness has already answered a substantially similar question asked by the same attorney on the same subject matter.

"Objections, your Honor, the question assumes facts not in evidence."

A question assumes facts not in evidence if:
• It presumes unproved facts to be true. Example: "When did you stop beating your wife?" This question assumes that the person has beaten his wife.

"Objection, your Honor, the question is compound."

A question is objectionable on the ground that it is compound if:
• It joins two or more questions ordinarily joined with the word "or" or the word "and."

"Objection, your Honor, the question is too general."

A question is too general, broad, or indefinite, if:
• It permits the witness to respond with testimony which may be irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible. Each question should limit the witness to a specific answer on a specific subject.

"Objection, your Honor, the question is hearsay.

A question is hearsay if:
• It invites the witness to offer an out-of-court statement to prove the truth of some matter in court. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule.

A question is irrelevant if:
• It invites or causes the witness to give evidence not related to the facts of the case at hand.

"Objection, your Honor, the question is leading.

A question is leading if:
• It is one that suggests to the witness the answer the examining party desires. However, this type of question is allowed on cross-examination of a witness.

"Objection, your Honor, the question mis-states the evidence."

A question misstates the evidence if:
• It misstates or misquotes the testimony of a witness or any other evidence produced at a hearing or at a trial.

"Objection, your Honor, the question calls for a narrative answer."

A question calls for a "narrative answer" if:
• It invites the witness to narrate a series of occurrences, which may produce irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible testimony.

Question and Answer interrogation is the standard format. It allows opposing counsel to object to improper questions.
"Objection, your Honor, the question calls for speculation."

A question is speculative if:
• It invites or causes the witness to speculate or answer on the basis of conjecture.


Admissible - Evidence that is relevant to the charge(s) for which the defendant stands accused, and is proper under the rules of evidence.

Arraignment - In a criminal case, the court appearance during which the judge informs the defendant of the charges of which s/he stands accused.

Bailiff - A Deputy Marshal, Deputy Sheriff or Correctional Officer, whose duties include maintaining order and security in the courtroom.

Bench - The large structure, usually raised, where the judge sits and which is located at the front of the courtroom.

Burden of Proof - The obligation the prosecutor (in a criminal case) or plaintiffs attorney (in a civil case) must meet in order to prove an accused person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Case -An action or controversy contested in a court of law.

Charges -The alleged violations of law which an accused person must answer to in a criminal case.

Complaint -A criminal charge filed in the Municipal Court which accuses a named defendant of committing a specified offense. Also, any civil case seeking damages or a court decision can be initiated in either a Municipal Court or Superior Court.

Contempt of Court - An act which is designed to embarrass, hinder or obstruct the Court, or which is designed to reduce the Court's authority or dignity.

Conviction - A judgment in a criminal case, following either a trial or a plea of either guilty or nolo contendere that the defendant is guilty as charged.

Counsel Table - The long table in front of the judge's bench where the parties and lawyers sit during the hearing or trial. The prosecution, or plaintiffs attorney in a civil case, is always seated closest to the jury box.

Cross-Examination - Questioning of the other side's witnesses while s/he is under oath, to test the truth of the evidence, to develop it or for other purpose. Cross-examination always follows the opposing counsel's direct examination.

Defendant - A person defending or denying an accusation. Also, in a civil case, the person against whom a complaint is filed.

Denial of Motion - The judge's refusal to grant a party's motion or request.

Detention -The action of a peace officer which by design temporarily interferes with a person's freedom to leave. Does this sound familiar???

Discovery -The right of the accused to learn of, and review evidence (documents, statements or material objects) that the prosecutor or opposing counsel may use against him/her in court.

Dismissal -A court order dismissing a case, action, suit motion, etc., without a trial of the issue(s) involved. In civil cases, a dismissal occurs when the plaintiff has not proved his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence.

Evidence -Oral testimony, writings, records, material objects or other things that are presented in court and offered to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact.

Failure to Appear - A person's act of not showing up in court on the date, at the time and in the location as stated on the traffic citation or as otherwise ordered by the Court.

Felony - Generally, any offense punishable by death or a term exceeding one (1) year.

Fifth Amendment
- No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Fourth Amendment - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Granting of Motion - Then a judge rules in a party's favor, giving him/her an order that grants the relief s/he has requested.

Guilty Plea - A confession or admission of guilt in open court.

Hearsay -An out-of-court statement which is offered to prove the truth of some matter being asserted in court.

Hung Jury - After a reasonable period of deliberation(s), if the jury is unable to agree upon a verdict (unanimous in criminal cases and three-fourths of the jurors in a civil case), the judge may declare a mistrial. The prosecution must then make the election to try the case again or to make a motion for the dismissal of the charges against the defendant. The Court on its own motion may dismiss the case in the interest of justice.

In Propria Persona - The act of representing oneself in court without the assistance of an attorney.

Judgment - The official decision of the Court on the respective rights and claims of the parties (litigants) involved.

Jury - A number of men and women, usually twelve (12), selected by the trial attorneys to evaluate evidence and decide questions of fact. Upon deliberation at the conclusion of the trial, the jury will render a verdict. Misdemeanor -Generally, offenses punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture or impris-onment otherwise than in state prison.

Motion - An application for an order or a ruling by the judge.

Nolo Contendere - A plea of no contest which makes the defendant guilty of the criminal charge(s) but may not be used as an admission of wrongdoing in later civil matters, unless permitted by statute.

Not Guilty Plea - The denial plea entered in any criminal case by the defendant. It is also a verdict where the jury acquits the defendant.

Notice to Appear - A court document informing a defendant of the charges alleged and the date, time and location of the next court appearance.

Objection - The act of objecting to or opposing the presentation of evidence, in order to obtain a ruling by the judge, preventing that evidence from being considered by the jury.

Order - A ruling by the Court in response to an attorney's motion, or request.

Overruling an Objection - A judges refusal to sustain, or recognize as sufficient, an objection by counsel during the course of the trial as to the introduction of some evidence.

Plaintiff - The person who complains, brings an action or suit, in a civil case.

Plea - A defendant's formal response to the criminal charges filed. This can be either guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or not guilty by reason of insanity.

Pre-Trial - Any proceedings that are held prior to the trial of a defendant's case.

Probable Cause - Specific articulated facts that would lead a reasonable and prudent person of ordinary caution to believe that a crime has been commit-ted and that the defendant may be the responsible party. The finding of probable cause may be based in whole or in part upon the sworn testimony of a law enforcement officer relating the statements of declarants made out of court offered for the truth of the matter asserted.

Prosecutor - The government attorney who reviews cases for filing and thereafter presents evidence to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reason-able doubt. (State Courts: District Attorney or Attorney General; Federal Courts: US Attorney.)

Relevant Evidence - Any evidence having any tendency in reason to prove or disprove a fact that is of consequence to the determination of a given case.

Respondent - The person who answers a complaint or defends an action in a civil case.

Sentence - The judgment formally pronounced by the Court upon a defendant, following his/her conviction in a criminal prosecution, which generally- imposes a fine or incarceration in a county jail or state prison.

Service of Process - The act of serving or delivering to a person with any court process, including subpoenas, by a person over the age of eighteen (18) that is not a party to the action.

Sixth Amendment - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his/her favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his/her defense.

State of Mind - Pertaining to offered proof which shows what a person's state of mind was at the time that person made an out-of-court statement or actions, in order to show bias or other factors which can be used to impeach that person's testimony.

Stipulation - An agreement between attorneys for adverse parties, relating to a matter involved in a court proceeding. Properly submitted, a stipulation is absolute proof of the matter agreed upon.

Subpoena - A command to appear at a specific time and place to give testimony upon a particular matter. A subpoena duces tecum requires production- of certain books, papers and other items.

Sustaining - An act of a court which upholds a party's objection to evidence, that has been offered, by ruling in that party's favor.

Testimony - Oral or written statements given by any person while under oath and subject to cross-examination.

Trial - A contested hearing held in court which is presided over by a judge, referee or commissioner where evidence can be offered, including testimony, documents and demonstrations.

Trial De Novo - A new, or subsequent trial.

Verdict - The formal decision or finding made by the jury.

Victim - The person who is the object of a crime or civil wrong (tort).

Warrant - A Judicial order authorizing one's arrest, search or seizure of property-, depending on whether it is an arrest warrant or a search warrant.

Witness - Generally, a person who is called to testify in court to what s/he has seen, heard or otherwise observed.

Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed., West Publishing Company, St. Paul, MN. 1990. Centennial Ed. (1891-1991). 3rd Reprint 1991.

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