Federal Criminal Jury Trial
Federal Criminal Jury Trials begin with Voire Dire or Jury Selection. In Federal Court, quite often the Judge will do most of the questioning of potential jurors. After the jury is selected, the jury is seated and sworn. In Federal Court, alternate jurors are often also seated.
After the jury is seated, Opening Statements are made. In the Opening Statement the Government will give the Jury a summary of the evidence it has against the accused. The Defense may give an opening statement immediately after the Government. I believe the Defense should open strong. I typically deliver an Opening Statement immediately after the Government.
After Opening Statements are made, the Government puts on its case. That means the Government calls its witnesses. The Defense cross examines every witness. The Government will often use informants as part of its case. I have lectured many times on the cross examination of informants. I use cross examination of an informant to systematically destroy the informants credibility by showing their history of deception and lying.
After the Government finishes calling witnesses the Defense puts on its case. This is our opportunity to call witnesses in defense of the Accused. I interview and prepare all defense witnesses to testify. The Accused has the right to testify but the Accused may elect not to testify. I typically spend a considerable amount of time preparing the Accused to testify. However, the decision on whether to testify, is a decision made by the Accused only after considerable discussion of the pros and cons.
After the Defense puts on its case the Judge reads the Jury Charge. This is the law that the jury is to follow while deliberating. Jury Charges in Federal Court are often quite long.
After the Jury Charge is read to the Jury, Final Arguments are presented. In Final Argument both sides argue what they think the evidence showed. During Final Argument, I do my best to demonstrate that the Government has failed to prove the allegations and the Defendant should be found Not Guilty.