Standard operating procedures for jury trials are as follows:
- Prior to selection of the jury, the attorneys must meet, review and exchange, and pre-mark all exhibits either side intends to use or reserves the right to use during the jury trial. This does not include an exhibit which would be used for impeachment only. Courtroom procedure Number 4 is mandatory for all jury trials.
- Any document, exhibit, photo, etc, that counsel wishes to publish to the jury, must be shown to opposing counsel before it is published and the item must have an exhibit number. If counsel intends to use a poster board exhibit, counsel must supply the Court with a smaller version to be kept with the record as the exhibit. Nothing should be projected on a screen, visible to the jury, prior to opposing counsel reviewing same.
- Points for Charge should be submitted no later than the first day of trial, at the beginning of the case, with the understanding that something might occur during the course of the Trial which would warrant a supplemental Point for Charge. The Court welcomes the electronic submissions of Points for Charge. Litigating counsel should communicate directly with the Judge’s Law Clerk regarding the method of submitting Points for Charge electronically.
- The parties must speak with each other and make a good faith effort to agree on a final set of instructions, and where there is no agreement the parties should be able to articulate, very specifically, objections and counter-proposals.
- The Court generally uses Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Civil Jury Instructions. If a party wishes to submit a jury instruction which is not part of the standard civil jury instructions, the submission should be accompanied with legal authority and an explanation of why the specific request is not adequately covered within the standard instructions. The parties should note that the Court tries to incorporate a cohesive final instruction and therefore each separate instruction needs to be located within an appropriate place in the overall charge to the jury. The Court will look to the parties for guidance with respect to same.
- Objections should be made formally and counsel must be careful to not make any statements during an objection which could alert a witness to change their testimony or improperly influence the jury. The objections are directed to the Court and, where necessary and appropriate, counsel should promptly request a side bar.
- Objections made during a videotaped deposition, which cannot be resolved by the parties, and which require the Court’s ruling, must be brought to the Court’s attention whenever possible, as a pre-trial Motion before the trial begins, but certainly no later than 4 hours prior to the intended use of the videotape deposition to allow the Court time to review same. Prior to submitting an objection to the Court, the parties must confer with one another with respect to each objection and make a good faith effort to resolve the objections on their own before presenting the objections to the Court. Objections which a party wishes to preserve and which require a Court ruling should be identified in a written Motion which contains the basis of the objection, legal authority for same, and the suggested remedy (i.e.: delete lines 6 through 18 on page 4 of the transcript). The party opposing the objection should provide the Court with a written response, legal authority and, where appropriate, a suggested remedy (i.e.: delete lines 6 through 8 but leave lines 9 through 15 with a specific instruction to the jury explaining why the subject matter has limited relevance).
- Lawyers should remain civil, one to the other, throughout the proceeding and work in a cooperative fashion with the Court to avoid error.