At least one week before a criminal trial, the parties will be
scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference. The Defendant(s) must be present
for the conference unless his presence is waived at a prior court proceeding.
I. Final Pretrial Submissions
The following should be filed five
business days before the conference, unless otherwise indicated:
1. Agreed Statement of the Case.
The Court will read this statement
to the jury during voir dire.
2. Witness Lists.
Separate lists for each side,
noting witnesses who will be called to testify and witnesses who may
be called to testify
For each witness, provide a concise
(2 or 3 sentences maximum) description of the witness’s role in the case.
The Court will read the names of
witnesses on these lists during jury selection.
3. Exhibit Lists.
A list, by each side, of all exhibits
the party will definitely use at trial (including demonstratives, summaries or
other specially prepared exhibits), which includes the following:
a. the exhibit number for each document;
b. the date of the document;
c. a brief description of the document and a concise statement of the
d. whether there is an objection to admission of the document and, if
so, a concise statement of the basis for the objection
(e.g., Rule 403—undue prejudice or confusion; Rule
e. a concise statement of the asserted basis of admissibility, if
there is an objection.
At least one week before the
pretrial conference, the parties must provide the court with three sets of
exhibit binders containing copies of the objected-to representative
exhibits. After the pretrial conference
and rulings on exhibits, three binders of the final exhibits will be required
to be given to the Court no later than the day before trial. Each
binder should also include a summary checklist page for the Court to track
admission of exhibits during trial.
Note: There is no need to list
every conceivable exhibit that can possibly be used. The parties should submit
a list of trial exhibits they definitely intend to introduce. Exhibits not
likely to be used need not be listed. If, due to unforeseen circumstances
during trial a party wishes to introduce an exhibit not previously listed,
notice should be given as soon as possible to the opposing side and to the
Court so that any objections can be discussed. Absent abuse of this process, an
exhibit will not be deemed inadmissible simply because it was not included on
the original exhibit list, provided the exhibit/document was earlier produced
to the opposing side during discovery.
4. Motions in Limine.
The parties are directed to meet
and confer on all motions in limine before filing them and determine which
motions, if any, are unopposed and do not need to be filed.
Unless otherwise ordered, all
motions in limine must be filed three weeks before the final pre-trial
conference. Responses are due one week before the the final pre-trial
conference. No replies should be filed.
Parties filing multiple motions in limine should submit their initial
motions and the supporting exhibits in one document for the Court. Responses
should also be submitted in one document.
5. Voir Dire Questions.
To the extent possible, the Court prefers that most questions
asked of potential jurors be included in a written questionnaire (of no more
than two pages) as it encourages reflection and candor. Sample
questions are provided below in section II.1 addressing jury
selection procedures. To propose questions that should be included in the written
questionnaire distributed to the venire, as well as questions the Court should
ask orally, the parties must file a joint document that includes both: (1)
joint questions in the form of a questionnaire; (2) a list of questions to be
asked orally; and (3) proposed questions to which one party objects, and a
short basis for the objection.
6. Jury Instructions.
The parties are instructed to meet
and attempt to agree on jury instructions and to file proposed instructions
before the final pre-trial conference. The Court uses the 7th Circuit Pattern
Jury Instructions where applicable, bearing in mind that statutory and binding
case law govern over the pattern instructions.
See Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions
If the parties wish to modify a 7th
Circuit Pattern Jury Instruction, the party proposing the modification must
submit a redline to the Court showing the modification to the pattern
instruction. The parties should concentrate their efforts on the substantive
jury instructions related to the merits.
Each proposed instruction must
indicate the proponent of the instruction and whether the instruction is agreed
or disputed. The bottom of each instruction must identify the legal authority
supporting the instruction. If an instruction is disputed, the grounds for the
objection (and any proposed modification or alternate instruction) must be
concisely stated on the same page immediately following the disputed
instruction. The party proposing the instruction may then state concisely the
reasons supporting the instruction as proposed.
7. Evidence Projection Systems.
Judge Alonso’s courtroom (1219) is equipped with a digital
evidence projection system. The Court expects trial counsel to use this system.
As early as possible prior to trial (not less than four weeks), counsel should
contact Alexander Zeier, the Courtroom Technology Administrator, to schedule a
training session. Mr. Zeier can be reached at (312) 435-6045.
II. Additional Pretrial
(1) Instructions for Trial Counsel:
Please Read Carefully
Your compliance with the following
requests will be greatly appreciated:
(i) Please be on time for each
court session. Trial engagements take precedence over any other business. If
you have matters in other courtrooms, arrange in advance to have them continued
or have a colleague handle them for you.
(ii) Court time may not be used for
marking exhibits. This must be done in advance of the court session.
(iii) Please stand whenever you
address the court. This includes the making of objections.
(iv) Please speak into the
microphone whenever speaking on the record in court. A portable microphone is
available is counsel wishes to move away from the stationary microphones.
(v) In your opening statement to
the jury, do not argue the case.
(vi) Please stand when you question
witnesses. (Counsel with physical disabilities will be excused from this
(vii) On direct examination, if you
intend to question a witness about a group of documents, avoid delay by having
all the documents given to the witness when you start the examination.
(viii) When you object in the
presence of the jury, make your objection short and to the point. Do not argue
the objection in the presence of the jury, and do not argue with the ruling of
the court in the presence of the jury. Such matters may be raised at the first
recess and will not be waived by waiting until the recess.
(ix) Do not ask the court in the
presence of the jury to declare that a witness is qualified as an expert or
qualified to express an expert opinion.
(x) Counsel are not permitted to
contact jurors after trial without permission of the Court.
Thank you in advance for your
(2) Final Pretrial Conference
The following is a list of topics
Judge Alonso will address during the final pre-trial conference. Counsel need
only be prepared to discuss the topics that are also referenced in the final
pretrial order. The remaining topics in the list below reference particular
practices Judge Alonso will explain during the final pre-trial conference.
1. voir dire
2. written juror questionnaire
3. jury lists – alphabetical and random agreed
4. statement of case – short enough to fit on letter to jurors
5. motions in limine – agreed matters and preparation of order on
6. exhibits: (i) pre-mark all; (ii) stipulate to as many as possible;
(iii) seek admission outside jury’s presence; (iv) must be admitted before
displayed on screen
7. demonstratives and visual aids.
8. trial day
11. trial technology – make sure to test it outside the presence of
12. preliminary instructions before opening
13. instructions before closing (can project on screen)
14. note pads
15. can always approach witness without permission
16. no speaking objections, unless requested
17. talking to jury after verdict