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OneWriter
05-18-2010, 08:01 PM
Is it true that in some high-profile cases it can take a long time for the lawyers to select a jury? Once the jury has been selected, how long does it take for all parties involved in the trial to be notified and for the first day of trial to be scheduled?

I need to remove one of my detectives from the investigation and I thought that he could get a last minute notification to testify in court -- I know these trials can go on for months, but also I'd like the notification to be last minute... Is that feasible?

Another scenario could be that the trial has already started, but then something goes wrong with the jury (somebody had not disclosed a possible conflict of interest? would that work?), so the trial is stalled, the detective goes back to work, until he gets a letter that the trial has resumed -- would it be feasible for the letter (trial is resuming) to come the day before so that the next day he's off to court and he has to leave the investigation?

Thanks.

Robert Toy
05-18-2010, 08:16 PM
Is it true that in some high-profile cases it can take a long time for the lawyers to select a jury? Once the jury has been selected, how long does it take for all parties involved in the trial to be notified and for the first day of trial to be scheduled?

Jury selection can be time consuming, both parties are involved in jury selection, typically once a jury is selected, the trial begins immediately.

I need to remove one of my detectives from the investigation and I thought that he could get a last minute notification to testify in court -- I know these trials can go on for months, but also I'd like the notification to be last minute... Is that feasible?

Possible but not likely as both parties need to prepare for testimony and cross exam, neither side nor the court like last minute calls

Another scenario could be that the trial has already started, but then something goes wrong with the jury (somebody had not disclosed a possible conflict of interest? would that work?), so the trial is stalled, the detective goes back to work, until he gets a letter that the trial has resumed -- would it be feasible for the letter (trial is resuming) to come the day before so that the next day he's off to court and he has to leave the investigation?

The juror falling afoul would be immediately replaced by one of the alternate jurors so a long delay would not be normal.


.

OneWriter
05-18-2010, 08:20 PM
Thanks for your reply. But then I could just have a lengthy jury selection (goes on for weeks) and then once it is selected the detective has to go since you said trial would start right away -- would that work? Thanks so much!

Robert Toy
05-18-2010, 08:33 PM
Thanks for your reply. But then I could just have a lengthy jury selection (goes on for weeks) and then once it is selected the detective has to go since you said trial would start right away -- would that work? Thanks so much!
You can place the timing of the detective’s testimony anywhere you wish, provided it is has some relevance and timing to the flow of case.

jclarkdawe
05-18-2010, 09:05 PM
This is how New Hampshire does it. Each state has a slightly different procedure, so you need to talk with someone in your state. The clerk at your county courthouse would be the best source.


Is it true that in some high-profile cases it can take a long time for the lawyers to select a jury? The jury pool in New Hampshire, culled from the voter list and driver's licenses, are required to report for a month of Mondays. Each Monday morning, jury selection is done for the trials starting that week. So even if your trial starts Thursday, you do jury selection on Monday morning. Voir dire (questioning of the jury) is done as a pool

However, for certain cases, the jury is questioned individually. Obviously, jury selection in that situation takes a while. It can take over a day to accomplish. Usually this is for first degree murder or cases that have been highly publicized. Normally, it takes about an hour to seat a jury.

Jurors are required to complete a questionnaire listing their names, education, address, experience with criminal cases (were they a victim?). The start of selecting the jury consists of the judge reading the witness list that have been submitted by both sides and a summary of the case. Jurors are asked at that point to come forward if they have a conflict. Usually a lot of them do.

Once the jury has been selected, how long does it take for all parties involved in the trial to be notified and for the first day of trial to be scheduled? Trial can start almost immediately. The wait is more because of the convenience of the court.

I need to remove one of my detectives from the investigation and I thought that he could get a last minute notification to testify in court -- I know these trials can go on for months, but also I'd like the notification to be last minute... Is that feasible? Technically, witnesses need to be notified no less than 24 hours before testifying. However, police witnesses usually have some idea of the schedule as soon as the lawyers do. And unless the detective is going to be testifying for several days, I'm not sure how testifying would be a problem. The detective is only in the courthouse during his/her testimony and immediately before. And even in cases that go on for months, witnesses are not there that long.

Another scenario could be that the trial has already started, but then something goes wrong with the jury (somebody had not disclosed a possible conflict of interest? would that work?), so the trial is stalled, the detective goes back to work, until he gets a letter that the trial has resumed -- would it be feasible for the letter (trial is resuming) to come the day before so that the next day he's off to court and he has to leave the investigation? Juries are chosen with alternatives. One jury goes bad, and the alternate takes their place. Quick and painless. Or what New Hampshire does is seat fourteen jurors, and then kicks off two right before deliberations starts.

Thanks.

By the way, witnesses are informed formally of the need to testify by subpoena, and informally by a phone call. Witnesses are not usually sent a letter and I doubt that would be the case with a police officer.

I'm sorry, I understand the needs of your plot, but I'm not sure how to get you from here to there. Personally, I'd think of a nice family emergency. Have his wife have a heart attack and that should generate a week or two off from work.

Jury selection would never last for weeks. The jurors would lynch the judge and attorneys, and I don't blame them. You have to work to get it to last more than a couple of days, and a week is about the max.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

OneWriter
05-18-2010, 09:16 PM
Thanks for your help! You're right, I should have mentioned that my story takes place in California. I read somewhere that for a high-profile murder case the lead detective can be booked for days once the trial starts. Can anyone confirm that? Otherwise I'll just have to break his leg and send him home on sick leave!!!! :)
And good point about the phone call, thanks!

jclarkdawe
05-19-2010, 07:00 AM
Thanks for your help! You're right, I should have mentioned that my story takes place in California. I read somewhere that for a high-profile murder case the lead detective can be booked for days once the trial starts. Can anyone confirm that? Otherwise I'll just have to break his leg and send him home on sick leave!!!! :)
And good point about the phone call, thanks!

I can't confirm it, but it makes sense. The attorneys preparing the case have an investigator assigned to the case, which depending upon practice can be a police officer or an investigator for the Attorney General's office. As issues arise that need investigating, that person would be the one doing it.

But that detective would not be a major cog in another investigation. Trials are scheduled months in advance, and you know what you're going to need long before you get into the courtroom. If you're going to need this guy, his/her schedule would reflect it.

Now if right before trial, the original lead detective bit the big one and died, and suddenly became unavailable, the assistant might find themselves stuck in this situation, but it's going to be very unusual.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

MarkEsq
05-19-2010, 05:05 PM
Thanks for your help! You're right, I should have mentioned that my story takes place in California. I read somewhere that for a high-profile murder case the lead detective can be booked for days once the trial starts. Can anyone confirm that? Otherwise I'll just have to break his leg and send him home on sick leave!!!! :)
And good point about the phone call, thanks!

I'm trying a murder case in a couple of weeks, though it's in Texas not California. Here, jury selection doesn't take long unless it's a death-penalty case. Even a murder jury can be picked in one afternoon, which is how we do it. A capital case can take a couple of weeks, though, yes.

Typically, we pick a jury on Monday afternoon, and start the trial proper Tuesday morning. The lead detective will almost certainly testify that first day. I usually like to have the first responder go first in trial, and tell the story as chronologically as possible. Most trials don't take as long as people imagine - mine will be over in less than a week, possibly just two or three days. After the lead detective testifies he will be released to go back to work (they handle multiple cases at once, so he won't want to be sitting around the courthouse). But he'll be on call so we can page him back if we need to.

Let me know if you have more questions.

RJK
05-19-2010, 05:41 PM
If your plot needs to get the detective away from the current case for a period of time, have his father or mother, living in a distant city, have a heart attack or stroke. If The parent needs to be put in a nursing home (following a stroke) he could be tied up for up to a month. This would also make for a great side story to develop your MC. How does he handle the responsibility of caring for his parent. Flashbacks about his boyhood with his parent, etc. They made a whole movie about it, staring Jackie Gleason.

milly
05-23-2010, 06:09 PM
I think that like many of the others here have stated, it really depends on the state, what the rules of procedure allow or require, and on the case itself.

I've tried cases to juries that lasted anywhere from two days to nine days but our juries were always selected during one day, sometimes on a Friday before the trial started on the following Monday.

As far as your witnesses are concerned, unless it's an expert that I've flown in for a particular day of the trial, most of them we time out pretty well so that the witness doesn't waste much time. Now, again, I'm not in California either but in Florida, it's really not as exciting or dramatic as you'd think.

Linda Adams
05-24-2010, 03:40 AM
Just as a really different example of the timelines in case this is helpful: I'm in a state (Virginia) and county with very speedy trials. An example told me by a local lawyer: A celebrity got arrested in the county. His lawyer comes in and tells the judge that it'll take two weeks to pick the jury and six weeks to try the case. The Judge: You'll pick your jury in two hours, and try the case in two days.

When I did jury duty, the chief judge told us that they tried to end trials by the end of the week. A really long one was two weeks, and that was rare (my lawyer friend confirmed this). I was on the list for two trials, one civil and one criminal. Picking the jury was under two hours. I was disqualified from both, but each trial took about two days. The other rotation of jurors got a murder trial. That lasted a week.

TV makes it out to be pretty exciting. My lawyer friend's comment on court: Law is boring!

Aztecsince79
05-28-2010, 06:28 AM
Hope you're still looking at this.

I don't know about other states, but in California for complicated cases jurors will be called in before the normal jury selection process begins and they will be asked to fill out questionnaires. The lawyers for both sides and judge will have approved the questions, which will be on issues that pertain to the case. Often used in gang cases, sexual assaults, etc. It weeds out a lot of prospective jurors and makes the actual process move faster once they're in court.

In major cases, the lead detective will be appointed as an investigator by the judge and will assist the prosecution. They testify in preliminary hearings, usually last in order to sum up the various points of evidence, but in trials usually sit there stone-faced with an occasional whisper to the prosecutor. I have never seen one replaced in mid-course but I suppose it could happen.

Surprise calls to testify are rare but not unheard of. The most realistic scenario would be for a witness to testify on a topic in a way the prosecution does not expect. The detective could then be called to say the witness was full of it or something.

In major cases there could be a whole bunch of detectives working on a case with only a couple of them called as witnesses. In the recent Chelsea King investigation, there were probably 50 or more detectives from several agencies working 24/7 to find her and then nail John Gardner. If that had gone to trial, probably only four or five of them would have ended up testifying.

Mac H.
05-28-2010, 02:24 PM
I need to remove one of my detectives from the investigation and I thought that he could get a last minute notification to testify in court -- I know these trials can go on for months, but also I'd like the notification to be last minute... Is that feasible? They can get last minute notification when the defense brings up a new piece of information.

For example, in a local case here there was an item of evidence which was fairly innocuous - just a log of phone calls into and out of an office. The defense cross asked an obscure question which the prosecution weren't prepared for (something about whether the log listed all records of a certain type of number) which opened up the question as to whether the evidence was accurate.

So the prosecution had to scramble to find someone to testify within a few hours about an obscure feature of the logging software. The person got up on the stand, answered a couple of questions and that was their evidence - basically saying "Yes, it does log all data of this type".

In that case, it was an almost literally 'last minute' notification. I imagine it could work similarly in his case - he just has to have a question about chain of evidence or something on old case and all of a sudden he's needed in a court suddenly.

It would be good enough for fiction !

Mac

OneWriter
05-29-2010, 01:49 PM
That's awesome info, thanks Mac H and Aztec.

padnar
06-01-2010, 10:43 AM
I'm trying a murder case in a couple of weeks, though it's in Texas not California. Here, jury selection doesn't take long unless it's a death-penalty case. Even a murder jury can be picked in one afternoon, which is how we do it. A capital case can take a couple of weeks, though, yes.

Typically, we pick a jury on Monday afternoon, and start the trial proper Tuesday morning. The lead detective will almost certainly testify that first day. I usually like to have the first responder go first in trial, and tell the story as chronologically as possible. Most trials don't take as long as people imagine - mine will be over in less than a week, possibly just two or three days. After the lead detective testifies he will be released to go back to work (they handle multiple cases at once, so he won't want to be sitting around the courthouse). But he'll be on call so we can page him back if we need to.

Let me know if you have more questions.
Hi,
I think I would also like your contact , as it would be helpful if know a judge who knows script writing . I had a tough time in my last script.
padma