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United States v. Peeples

February 2, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOE WALLACE PEEPLES, III, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McClure, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

ORDER

COURTROOM PROCEDURE and PROTOCOL

BACKGROUND

This order is presented to counsel in matters which reach the trial stage, to provide a written statement of this court's courtroom procedures.

The overall goal of the courts is the timely, cost-effective, yet fair resolution of disputes. In addition to the costs of litigation to the parties and the court, we must recognize the burdens placed on jurors and witnesses. The purpose of the guidelines contained in this order is to further the efficient administration of justice, decrease the burden on affected persons and lend dignity to the proceeding. These guidelines should also provide some certainty to practitioners who do not appear regularly before this court.

If counsel or an interested party has a suggestion on changes to these guidelines which may better further these goals, the suggestion may be submitted in writing to the undersigned judge. If these guidelines prove a barrier in a particular case, counsel in that case should move the court to suspend, alter or amend these guidelines.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:

I. DECORUM

1. It is the court's goal to allow counsel to present their cases generally in the fashion they choose. In an ideal case, the court participates only through instructions to the jury. To achieve this goal, counsel are permitted considerable leeway in examining witnesses and in their movements in the courtroom. It is only when the liberty given to counsel is abused, or the few guidelines imposed are violated, that the court will be constrained to take action. In necessary instances, the court will impose further restrictions and take any other appropriate action.

2. Colloquy between counsel is permitted only to expedite the trial. Argument between counsel is not permitted. All remarks should be addressed to the court.

3. The trial should be kept low-key; it should be at all times quiet and dignified.

4. During trial counsel should not exhibit familiarity with witnesses, jurors, or opposing counsel. During opening statements and closing argument, no juror should be addressed individually or by name.

5. During the argument of opposing counsel, counsel should remain seated at counsel table, be respectful and never divert the attention of the court or the jury. Counsel may wait until the end of an argument to object or to move for a mistrial, if appropriate, without waiving the objection or the motion.

6. In a jury trial, counsel should not offer a stipulation in open court without first confirming with opposing counsel and being certain that the stipulation is acceptable. In criminal cases, any stipulation of fact will require the defendant's personal concurrence, and a proposed stipulation should not be offered in open court. Wherever possible, a proposed stipulation should be typed or written beforehand and read to the jury so that opposing counsel may be certain of the wording of the stipulation.

II. COURT HOURS AND PROMPTNESS

1. The court will make every effort to commence proceedings at the time set. Promptness is expected from counsel, parties, and witnesses. Chambers should be notified of any unanticipated delay.

2. If a witness was on the stand at a recess or adjournment, the witness should be on the stand, ready to proceed, when court is resumed.

3. Counsel should not run out of witnesses. If this occurs, and there is more than a brief delay, the court may assume that counsel has rested.

III. DIFFICULT QUESTIONS))ADVANCE NOTICE

If there is reason to anticipate that a difficult question of law or evidence will arise during the trial, counsel should file and serve on opposing counsel a memorandum of law at least one day prior to the time it is anticipated that the question will arise. Whenever appropriate and possible prior to trial, the issue should be presented in the form of a motion in limine, in accordance with the court's case management order.

IV. OPENING STATEMENTS

Opening statements, which will be from the lectern, must be confined to what counsel expect the evidence to show. It is not proper to use the opening statement to argue the case or instruct as to the law. When speaking from the lectern, counsel may move from behind the lectern but should not move more than an arm's ...


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