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During a trial what goes on in the courtroom when the Jury is at Recess??

Orlando, FL |

For instance, the defense attorney often requests to the judge for the jury to go to break, and usually the judge agrees and tells the jury that there has some work to be done in which you cannot hear. What type of information is that secretive? What goes on behind the scenes?? Also when attorneys ask to pursue the judge and they put the static noise on so we can't hear, what types of things do you guys talk about? I often see a fun conversation of laughing in front of all of us. Why would the Defense laugh with the prosecutor if they are competing against each other?? I have spoken to some attorneys who are great friends with the prosecutor, wouldn't this be very bad for a defendant who is choosing this attorney who is good friends with the prosecutor since the defense & prosecution

are competing AGAINST each other. It seems much easier for a defendant to chose a defense attorney who isn't friends with the prosecutor so that they will fight harder to make the prosecutors tactics look dull. A defense attorney who is friends with the prosecutor seems like they would be sensitive to upsetting the prosecution and not fight as hard to win, for the sake of the defense attorneys friendship with the prosecution. Why? is what I'm explaining true. I was told by the prosecution, during jury selection, the prosecution looks up on Google random people from the jury to make better selection choices. They search these peoples information and background. So what ALL goes on behind the scenes when we aren't there??? Thank you

Attorney Answers 12

  1. Best answer

    The legal version of the "Harlem Shake"

    Advice is general in nature. There is no lawyer client relationship based on answers to any questions.

  2. There are a great many things that we talk about out of the presence of the jury. Sometimes it's purely routine scheduling matters. Other times we're discussing evidentiary issues that involve evidence that hasn't been published to the jury yet. Often objections are discussed at the bench because the reasoning may involve discussing facts which the jury hasn't or won't hear. The reason for doing it in such a manner is, the things we discuss up there aren't supposed to be used in determining guilt. The goal is to present you only trustworthy facts upon which you can base your opinion as to guilt without being swayed by emotion. There are plenty of reason to meet outside the jury's presence. I'm sure others will chime in with additional reasons.

  3. I was always taught that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but you have proven that lesson to be 1/2 wrong.

    As to the reasonable 1/2: What goes on outside of the jury's presence are questions / issues of law which the Court needs to address such that the case may proceed without error - or at least with a complete record as to the "why" of the Judge's rulings. Sometimes these sidebars are contentious and other times they are jovial; but either way they are a legal necessity (although some Judges "require" more than I personally feel are necessary).

    As to the other 1/2 of your question (the inane part): Lawyers are professionals. I can do battle against a prosecutor (in say a DUI case all day) and then pal around (have dinner and a drink) afterward and it has no bearing whatsoever on my dedication to my client and serving his interests. In fact, in my 21+ years of criminal defense litigation I have been fortunate enough to have forged exceptional relationships with a good number of prosecutors and I would venture to say that if those relationships had any impact on a given client's case then the result was positive for the client. Being on opposite sides of a court battle does not require hostility, whether in the courtroom or outside.

    I understand your not understanding what lawyers do "in secret", but if you ask me - all things equal - whether I'd be more comfortable as a client with a defense attorney who has a positive relationship with opposing counsel or one with a negative relationship, I'll take positive each and every time.

    I apologize for being critical but the second half of your question is polarizing. There is no conspiracy and things are not black and white my friend.

  4. There are a plethora of thing done and discussed outside the presence of the jury.

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  5. I agree with the other attorneys and would only add that I understand when clients are confused about "friendliness" between opposing attorneys. I recall many years ago when my husband's family law attorney was chatting amicably with the opposing counsel and it upset him - I probably didn't understand fully until I became an attorney myself and saw that it's not necessary to be "enemies" in the courtroom. In fact, if we walked around hating all the prosecutors and showing that disdain, things would get very ugly and that would end up hurting our clients. Professional relationships are definitely better that being adversarial all the time in and out of the courtroom.

    This response is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney to fully discuss your issues.

  6. Evidentiary issues are often discussed that the jury cannot hear. This does not exclude small talk and jokes.

  7. I'll briefly answer the latter part of your question since I am a former prosecutor. Forget everything you see on T.V. where the lawyers hate each other and are constantly fighting. It's just not real life. The most important thing in a professional relationship between any attorney is trust. Without it, the courtroom becomes a war zone and justice is rarely accomplished. Having great relationships with our colleagues allows us to resolve cases favorably for both sides and keep the drama where it belongs, on T.V.

  8. This is a great question and you received good answers!

  9. A lot of the things that go on are necessary due process issues, such as determining if the defendant is satisfied with the attorney's services. If the jury has been charged and is in the course of deliberations, it means a lot of downtime for the lawyers.

    Please note that the answers provided herein are the attorney's professional opinions based upon the attorney's experience based upon the information provided to the attorney as part of the attorney's participation in the setting of this forum. No responses posted by the attorney in question are intended to be legal advice or professional advice of any kind. No attorney-client relationship is being established or solicited. The attorney will not make any communication with the person asking the question unless that person independently contacts the attorney outside of this forum.

  10. Generally, when the jury is not in the courtroom, lawyers discuss things that the jury should not hear because it might sway their point of view. For instance, this could be motions on evidence that the judge has excluded from the trial for one reason or another. Sometimes attorneys will also discuss simple "house-keeping" matters with the court, such as scheduling issues. In short, a wide array of things could be discussed during those times when the jury is asked to leave the courtroom.

    Also, we make fun of what jurors are wearing.

  11. numerous things can go on while the jury is in recess. Jury instruction arguments are one example. see the recent George Zimmerman case where the arguments over 3d degree murder were held outside of the jury's hearing. Legal arguments over what evidence the jury should be allowed to hear take place outside the jury's hearing.

  12. Sometimes its when the prosecution approaches the defense with a plea offer breaking down the charges. At that point it becomes a weighing of the risk versus a greatly reduced and favorable resolution...

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