Ten Commandments of Etiquette and Decorum In Trials


Judge Albert B. Smith, III

1. Never lean against or across the rail of the jury box at any time that the jury is present in the jury box.

2. Stand whenever addressing the Court. Remain seated whenever the jury enters or leaves the courtroom. U.C.C.C.R. 3.02 and 3.08.

3. All comments, statements, remarks, etc., are to be addressed to the Court and there is to be no cross-talking between opposing attorneys in the presence of the jury. U.C.C.C.R. 3.02.

4. Only one (1) attorney per side shall be "assigned" to a witness and that attorney will be responsible for both the examination of the witness and for making any objections during that witness' testimony. U.C.C.C.R. 3.02.

5. It is not necessary to request permission to approach a witness; however, a reasonable distance shall be maintained at all times between the interrogator and the witness unless the use of a document or exhibit requires that the interrogator and the witness are in close proximity.

6. Any request that a document is marked, that a witness is brought in, or any other request which requires the action of Court personnel and/or support staff is to be addressed to the Judge and not directly to the court staff member, if the request is made at a time when the jury is present in the courtroom. In other words, lawyers are to avoid giving direct instructions to court personnel in the presence of the jury but rather are advised that those requests should be made of the Court.

7. The Court will set a reasonable time limit for voir dire. Voir dire is not to be used to make an opening statement or closing argument. In other words, the Court is of the opinion that voir dire is to be used to ask questions and not to make speeches or arguments. The Court will not generally allow individual voir dire in chambers. U.C.C.C.R. 3.05.

8. Speech making is to be avoided at the times that objections are made. For example, if a question is objectionable because it lacks relevance, then, the objection should be simply stated "Objection your Honor, irrelevant." While the Court recognizes that at times speech making is desirable for strategic reasons, it is discouraged and, for the most part, will not be permitted.

9. Please remember to speak slowly, clearly, and audibly and to remind your witnesses, when necessary, to do the same.

10. The Court may exercise its discretion pursuant to Rule 611 of the Rules of Evidence and intervene sua sponte to deal with matters affecting the interrogation of witnesses and the presentation of evidence.