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Courthouse Guidelines

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Blade
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« on: May 24, 2009, 11:33:05 am »

MLNO Department of Justice
Courthouse Format

The MLNO Department of Justice was created in order to provide a formal environment for dealing with issues that come up between two or more parties. In here, a member may wish to bring an accusation against one or more member(s) to a judge, or testify against an action carried out by the MLNO Staff.

In the courthouse, a specific format must be followed.

1. All forum rules apply here.

2. If you must submit an accusation to the Justice Department, then please PM it to one of the presiding judges. They will then create a topic titled "[Your Username (plaintiff)] vs. [Opposition's Username (defendant)]." The topic will have the following format:

Quote
MLNO Department of Justice
Case #
Date
[Plaintiff] vs. [Defendant]



Will the plaintiff please post their side of the story, subsequently followed by the defendant.

The judge will then be required to send a PM to the defendant requiring them to present themselves in the courthouse and being able to defend their position. If they refuse or fail to present themselves, then an immediate ruling will be made by the presiding judge, and any necessary consequences will be carried out subsequently by the MLNO Staff.

3. Once a topic is created, the judge will begin by asking both sides the story from their perspective. They will then continue to ask more questions, depending on the actual case.

4. The plaintiff and the defendant are not permitted to speak out of their place. They may only speak if the judge asks them to. The judge is responsible for making sure they are very clear and explicit of who they are talking to.

5. Tangible proof will most likely be necessary. It can be in the form of a screenshot, quote, anything, as long as it is the same as the original copy. Also, the plaintiff or the defendant may call upon one or more witness(es) in order to confirm their own allegations.

6. No party may throw insults at each other, no matter how heated an argument is. The plaintiff may not insult the defendant, the defendant may not insult the plaintiff, both parties may not insult the judge, and the judge may not insult both parties.

7. Once a case has been cleared, the judge is responsible for posting the outcome of the case and forwarding it to the MLNO Staff. Any disciplinary action necessary will then be executed by a member of the MLNO Staff.

8. All case topics will remain locked in the Courthouse forum. They are not to be archived.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 08:00:34 pm by Rahkshi8000 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2009, 03:34:41 pm »

MLNO Department of Justice
Trial Process


While trying not to be a repeat of the above, court proceedings will go as follows:

Once the trial begins, opening statements will begin, starting with the plaintiff. The defendant party will follow with their statement.

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Opening Statements

The purpose of opening statements by each side is to tell jurors something about the case they will be hearing. The opening statements must be confined to facts that will be proved by the evidence, and cannot be argumentative.

The trial begins with the opening statement of the party with the burden of proof. This is the party that brought the case to court--the government in a criminal prosecution or the plaintiff in a civil case--and has to prove its case in order to prevail. The defense lawyer follows with his or her opening statement. In some states, the defense may reserve its opening statement until the end of the plaintiff's or government's case. Either lawyer may choose not to present an opening statement.

In a criminal trial, the burden of proof rests with the government, which must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The defendant does not need to prove his or her innocence--the burden is on the government. In a civil trial, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and generally must prove liability by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., the greater weight of the evidence.) The degree of proof required in a civil case is far less stringent than in a criminal case. Once again, the defendant does not have to prove that he or she is not liable.

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After opening statements, the plaintiff has the floor. They will present their evidence and try to prove their case before the court. This may include bringing in witnesses (See below).

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Evidence

The heart of the case is the presentation of evidence. There are two types of evidence -- direct and circumstantial.

  • Direct evidence usually is that which speaks for itself: eyewitness accounts, a confession, or a weapon.
  • Circumstantial evidence usually is that which suggests a fact by implication or inference: the appearance of the scene of a crime, testimony that suggests a connection or link with a crime, physical evidence that suggests criminal activity.
Both kinds of evidence are a part of most trials, with circumstantial evidence probably being used more often than direct. Either kind of evidence can be offered in oral testimony of witnesses or physical exhibits, including fingerprints, test results, and documents. Neither kind of evidence is more valuable than the other.

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Should a witness be used, the party providing the witness will get to ask questions first. The second party may cross-examine the witness after the first party is done. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are there to be interruptions during questionings, with the sole exception being the call of "Objection," followed by a reason. If "objection" is called, the questioning stops until a judge responds. This is the only time a judge can make a one-word post: "Sustained" or "Overruled."

Questions shall be asked one at a time, not in blocks, to avoid confusion.

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Direct Examination

Lawyers for the plaintiff or the government begin the presentation of evidence by calling witnesses. The questions they ask of the witnesses are direct examination. Direct examination may elicit both direct and circumstantial evidence. Witnesses may testify to matters of fact, and in some instances provide opinions. They also may be called to identify documents, pictures or other items introduced into evidence.

Generally witnesses cannot state opinions or give conclusions unless they are experts or are especially qualified to do so. Witnesses qualified in a particular field as expert witnesses may give their opinion based on the facts in evidence and may give the reason for that opinion.

Lawyers generally may not ask leading questions of their own witnesses. Leading questions are questions that suggest the answers desired, in effect prompting the witness. An example is, "Isn't it true that you saw John waiting across the street before his wife came home?"

Objections may be made by the opposing counsel for many reasons under the rules of evidence, such as to leading questions, questions that call for an opinion or conclusion by a witness, or questions that require an answer based on hearsay.

Most courts require a specific legal reason be given for an objection. Usually, the judge will immediately either sustain or overrule the objection. If the objection is sustained, the lawyer must re-phrase the question in a proper form or ask another question. If the objection is overruled and the witness answers the question, the lawyer who raised the objection may appeal the judge's ruling after the trial is over.

As a handbook for federal jurors points out, AA ruling by the judge does not indicate that the judge is taking sides. He or she is merely saying, in effect, that the law does, or else does not, permit that question to be asked. Even if the judge decides every objection against a certain party, he or she is not taking sides or indicating to jurors how they should decide the case.

Quote
Cross-Examination

When the lawyer for the plaintiff or the government has finished questioning a witness, the lawyer for the defendant may then cross-examine the witness. Cross-examination is generally limited to questioning only on matters that were raised during direct examination. Leading questions may be asked during cross-examination, since the purpose of cross-examination is to test the credibility of statements made during direct examination. Another reason for allowing leading questions is that the witness is usually being questioned by the lawyer who did not originally call him or her, so it is likely that the witness will resist any suggestion that is not true. When a lawyer calls an adverse or hostile witness (a witness whose relationship to the lawyer’s client is such that his testimony is likely to be prejudicial) on direct examination, the lawyer can ask leading questions as on cross-examination.

On cross-examination, the attorney might try to question the witness's ability to identify or recollect or try to impeach the witness or the evidence. Impeach in this sense means to question or reduce the credibility of the witness or evidence. The attorney might do this by trying to show prejudice or bias in the witness, such as his or her relationship or friendship with one of the parties, or his or her interest in the outcome of the case. Witnesses may be asked if they have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude (dishonesty), since this is relevant to their credibility.

Opposing counsel may object to certain questions asked on cross-examination if the questions violate the state's laws on evidence or if they relate to matters not discussed during direct examination.

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Once the plaintiff has finished their case, they shall state "The plaintiff rests." At this point, the defense will have the floor and shall begin providing their evidence. In short, the defense shall now try to prove their case.

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Presentation of Evidence by the Defense

The defense lawyer may choose not to present evidence, in the belief that the plaintiff or government did not prove its case. Usually, however, the defense will offer evidence.

In a criminal case, the witnesses presented by the defense may or may not include the defendant. Because the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against self-incrimination, the prosecution cannot require the defendant to take the stand and explain what happened, nor can it comment or speculate on the reasons the defendant has chosen not to testify. The jury will be instructed not to take into account the fact that the defendant did not testify.

The defense presents evidence in the same manner as the plaintiff or state, and the plaintiff or government in return has the right to cross-examine the defense's witnesses. Re-direct and re-cross examination also are permitted.

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At the end of the defense's statements, ending with "The defense rests," the plaintiff will get one more shot at providing evidence for their argument. However, this evidence has to be brand new; not mentioned before in the case.

Quote
Rebuttal

At the conclusion of the defendant's case, the plaintiff or government can present rebuttal witnesses or evidence to refute evidence presented by the defendant. This may include only evidence not presented in the case initially, or a new witness who contradicts the defendant's witnesses.

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After all of this, closing statements will occur, starting with the plaintiff. Their statement will be followed by the defense, which could be followed by a second statement by the plaintiff if they so desire.

Quote
Closing Arguments

The lawyers’ closing arguments or summations discuss the evidence and properly drawn inferences. The lawyers cannot talk about issues outside the case or about evidence that was not presented.

The judge usually indicates to the lawyers before closing arguments begin which instructions he or she intends to give the jury. In their closing arguments the lawyers can comment on the jury instructions and relate them to the evidence.

The lawyer for the plaintiff or government usually goes first. The lawyer sums up and comments on the evidence in the most favorable light for his or her side, showing how it proved what he or she had to prove to prevail in the case.

After that side has made its case, the defense then presents its closing arguments. The defense lawyer usually answers statements made in the plaintiff's or government’s argument, points out defects in their case and sums up the facts favorable to his/her client.

Because the plaintiff or government has the burden of proof, the lawyer for that side is then entitled to make a concluding argument, sometimes called a rebuttal. This is a chance to respond to the defendant’s points and make one final appeal to the jury.

Occasionally the defense may choose not to make a closing statement. If so, the plaintiff or government loses the right to make a second argument.

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From this point on, decisions are made on the case, whether it be by jury or by judge. The judge also has the responsibility of keeping the case on track and deleting SPAM (All posts considered irrelevant) from the trial. All quotes are from The American Bar Association.
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