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Misdemeanor Charge

Los Angeles, CA |

I am considering going on trial for a misdemeanor charge in one of the court in LA superior court list. I was wondering if before deciding on wether or not to go on trial - Can I attend a trial as a member of the audience? Are the ongoing court cases open to public audience?

This is my first ever brush with law and being convicted at the trial means jail time for me. This would definitely affect my job. Hence want to be sure of my decision. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 7

Posted

Almost all criminal cases are open to the public. Therefore, yes, you can watch a trial in the gallery.

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6 comments

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Posted

Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more. It would come off as a cheap stunt for the defendant in the trial to be sitting anywhere other than next to his or her counsel, and I don't know of any lawyer who would want his or her client sitting somewhere other than at counsel table. At the very least, if there were such a circumstance, it'd be a situation where the lawyer would have to be the one making that suggestion to the client, not the other way around.

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Posted

And the vast majority-- if not all-- judges in this jurisdiction would probably put a stop to it anyway.

Asker

Posted

Mr.McKain - Thank you for your reply. Is there a way I can find what cases are being tried in the courts nearby? Or is going to court the only way of knowing the current cases? I tried googling but guess am looking at the wrong place.

Kevin Keith McKain

Kevin Keith McKain

Posted

It would probably be difficult to determine what cases are on for trial without contacting a judge directly. I know here in New York, if I walk through the courthouse on any given day, I can find numerous courtrooms with trials ongoing, and you can walk in and watch. Unless one party moves to close courtroom, and said motion is granted, the courtroom is almost always open to the public, except during jury selection and a few other times during trial.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

@ Mr. BOuvier-Brown: I think you misread the question. She does not want to attend the her own trial as part of the audience. She wants to watch some other trial to see how it goes. Of course we already know--slowly, oh how slowly--but she doesn't. I don't see any stunt here.

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Posted

Mr. Kaman-- I agree. We clarified in the comments to my answer to the question.

Posted

Look, not to be too blunt here, but if you're considering going to trial you're obviously being represented by an attorney. That person, and ONLY that person, is the one you should be asking about a matter of trial strategy. This is obviously an important decision with real consequences for your life. Nobody here has any idea what the facts of your case are and can't give you any meaningful opinion about whether you should take the risk inherent in a jury trial.
That said, one easy answer: if it's your trial and you want to attend, you'll sit an counsel table, next to your lawyer.
Second easy answer: yes, trials are by their very nature open to the public. It's fundamental to the way the system works.
TALK TO YOUR LAWYER. If you don't trust your lawyer well enough to ask these questions of him or her, you should seriously consider whether or not you want that person to represent you at trial.

Any answer provided on Avvo, including this one, is a general answer about a legal question, not specific legal advice. Different lawyers may analyze this or any other matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am licensed in the state of California and the Central District of the Ninth Circuit.

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3 comments

Asker

Posted

Mr.Brown - Thank you for your reply. May be I did not do a good job at posting my question. Let me try rephrasing it - My question did not revolve around attending my own trial. I am an immigrant in this country and hence have never been called on jury duty. By being a part of the audience for an ongoing case, I wanted to first hand experience the court system and the jury trial before either re-hiring my attorney or finding a new one for my case. My only attempt was to know if it was worth taking my case to trial or settling pre-trial.

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Andrew Joseph Bouvier-Brown

Posted

That makes much, much more sense. If you're in LA, just head down to the main criminal court building downtown (Clara Shortridge Foltz Building, 210 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, sometimes called "CCB,") go to the information desk, and ask someone there what courts have jury trials that day. You're guaranteed that on any given day at CCB there will be several active trials and they're all open to the public.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

Prepare yourself to be bored to death.

Posted

99.9 percent of the time yes. You will need someone to direct you to the trial courts. Most courtrooms do not handle trials.

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1 comment

Asker

Posted

By someone did you mean an attorney or just someone at the court house? How do I find trial courts on my own if the people at the court house are not too happy with me wanting to observe.

Posted

Trial is a decision the client makes. It sounds like you already have an attorney because you said you were "considering going to trial". I would sit down and have a chat with him about the risks of going to trial in your matter and whether or not you have a plausible defense. Jurors are very unpredictable, and that is why it's difficult to give a guarantee, which no lawyer will do because it's unethical. Additionally, trials are open to the public so if you are out of custody, which it sounds like you are-go ahead and watch a trial or part of a trial. Voir dire usually takes a couple of days so go to the trial once it gets rolling unless you want to sit through tedious questions. Good luck. LAW OFFICES OF VICTORIA CLEMANS (310) 803-9111.

This is a general statement regarding law and facts and should not be construed as an attorney-client relationship or a solicitation for same.

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Posted

Yes, it is very rare for a trial to be closed. They may close the courtroom if a minor is testifying, but other than that it is very rare. With that said, don't even contemplate that a trial or several trials are going to help you if you plan to defend yourself. It takes years of schooling and trials before one becomes accomplished in this area. Good luck.

The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.

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Posted

Whether you're represented by an attorney or not in your own criminal matter, attending other trials SHOULD NOT influence your decision to go to trial yourself. Every case is different and one case will never be on all fours with another case. The decision to go to trial is one you and your attorney make having considered the facts and the law in YOUR case. That being said, a good way of learning how the criminal justice system works at trial is watching a trial in any open courtroom in the county. If you are representing yourself I'd be happy to discuss this with you. (323) 947-8490.

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Posted

Trial courts are always open to the public. Its not a bad idea to have an idea of what to expect, but just understand that the result in one trial has nothing to do with you. You should base your decision to go to trial on the sound advice of an attorney you trust who has a large amount of trial experience. It may not in fact be the best decision to go to trial. Best thing you can do is seek separate opinions from other lawyers after they have independently evaluated your case as to whether you have a chance to prevail. If it would be helpful we offer a free one time consult. Feel free to call any time.

Brian Michaels
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
www.socalcrimdefense.com
3109919179

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