i. Jury selection: The court will generally seat a jury of eight to ten. There are no "alternates." The court uses the "struck jury" system for jury selection. The court provides an explanation of the process for counsel who are unfamiliar with the system.
ii. Voir Dire: The court conducts voir dire, but allows counsel to propose, in writing, specific voir dire questions to be asked by the court. As outlined above, challenges in the struck jury system are made in a manner that jurors do not know which party has excused them.
iii. Note-taking and juror-proposed questions: The court permits jurors to take notes during trial, and also permits jurors to propose follow-up questions to be asked of witnesses. The court explains this procedure to the jury and cautions them. Jurors are able to write their questions at the conclusion of each witness's testimony on cards which are collected and reviewed by the judge and counsel on the record at side bar; if the questions are unobjectionable, the court will ask them of the witness. Counsel are then permitted to follow up with pertinent additional questions as desired.
iv. Jury instructions: Instructions must be agreed upon to the greatest extent possible among the parties, and filed at least five business days before trial. The court uses its own generic introductory and concluding civil instructions. The jury receives preliminary instructions on the elements of the claims and defenses before the opening statements, and final instructions are delivered to the jury in written form in addition to the oral presentation from the bench.
v. Courtroom Schedule and other matters: The court generally holds trial on a daily basis between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., with a 30-minute break at 10:30. The court will not allow multiple counsel for one party to interrogate the same witness or give opening statements or closing arguments. The court does not generally impose a strict time limitation for opening statements and closing arguments but expects that openings and closings in uncomplicated cases can be done in less than 30 minutes. There may be time limitations imposed on direct or cross-examination in some cases. The court generally requires counsel to request permission to approach a witness and the bench.
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