In a typical jury trial, the jury serves as the trier of fact while the judge reviews questions of law and procedure. In a bench trial, the ultimate decision-maker is the judge; There is significant opportunity to present arguments throughout the pretrial proceedings; You must be conscious about not narrowing the scope of your arguments too early because there’s no going back; A judge may be a little more lenient with the rules of evidence; Bench trials allow both … A bench trial is also faster and the judge often returns a “finding” (the functional equivalent of a verdict) much quicker than in a jury trial. They believe that there is an audience of one—the judge. This can be a good or bad thing. With bench trials, the judge plays the role of the jury as finder of fact, in addition to making conclusions of law. Bench trials deal primarily with civil cases. Before you decide, you should learn the advantages of trial by judge. Wear a suit, be polite, the salient points are above, don't go on tangents (i.e. In a bench trial, the judge decides both matters of law and matters of fact. In petty misdemeanor cases and juvenile court matters, you do not have a right to a jury trial and may only have a Court Trial. At a criminal proceeding, a bench trial allows a defendant to have the judge decide whether they are innocent or guilty. In a criminal proceeding in state court, a defendant may face a jury trial or a bench trial. They directly engage with the judge and help make very important decisions throughout a bench trial. While this list of tips is certainly not exhaustive, it serves as a great starting point. In the United States, if a civil case makes it to trial, then the matter will most likely be tried from the bench unless a party requests a jury. The judge cannot rule differently in a bench trial than he would in a jury trial. Second, once you know your audience, you should also understand your audience. In a trial, a judge makes all the legal decisions, such as whether or not a particular item of evidence can be used. Although a judge’s opinion may not be exactly on point with the facts, claims, and legal arguments in your case, these opinions provide more insight than might first meet the eye, especially in the context of a bench trial. Essentially, you are compiling vital analytics about your audience and knowing your audience is one of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition. Copyright ©2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. In this circumstance, if you disagree with a ruling from the bench, it does little to no good to argue your position. What happens at a civil bench trial? Accordingly, the moment you file your case and receive information about the judge that will preside over the matter, you should: research the judge and pull his or her recent cases, find out if the judge has a clerk, research the clerk, and ask other lawyers about their experience with the judge and/or clerk. Unlike jury trials where a juror may learn little to nothing about a case before trial, cases tried from the bench present unique opportunities to shape the judge’s opinion of the case prior to trial. The judge plays the role of the jury, determining the facts in the trial and applying them to the law in question to reach a verdict. If the jury reaches a verdict, or upon the conclusion of a bench trial when the judge issues a verdict, the defendant may be convicted of all charges, convicted of some charges but acquitted of others, or acquitted. You should be prepared to deal with these nuances in the moment. A bench trial means the trial is in front of a judge, not a jury. A Court Trial, or what is sometimes referred to as a Bench Trial, is a trial in front of a judge.Instead of having a trial by jury, you may choose to have your case decided by a judicial officer. A thoughtful pretrial brief offers a great opportunity for you to educate the judge about your case as well as persuade the judge to view the facts from your point of view. trial memo. raichasays. Your case will be tried at a bench trial. Essentially, you are handed—free of charge—a substantive and procedural guide to build your case. The “Bench” Trial In a bench trial, the neutral third-party fact finder is a judge. There are two different types of trials —jury trials and bench trials. The general provisions for a trial by bench are laid out in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. A bench trial is also often referred to as a trial by judge. In a bench trial, there is ample opportunity to present the court with arguments throughout the pretrial proceedings. The judge’s duty is to hear the case and if the individual is found guilty of the crime, the judge will determine their punishment. Never assume that a judge knows everything there is to know about a case; but a lawyer should also be mindful that a judge has a level of knowledge of the law that surpasses that of a juror. A layperson likely associates most trials with a jury because of popular television show references such as Law & Order and The Good Wife. The same rule applies for bench trials. It is also vital to leave room for your case to grow and take form as the parties embark on discovery. For some offenses charged, the jury may convict of a "lesser included" offense. According to an article published on the Forbes website entitled Why Knowing Your Audience is the Key to Success by Jayson DeMers, when you know your audience, you set yourself up to get optimal results. the tenant is bad person) or speak out of turn. Once the parties and their attorneys are in court, the judge will enter and take his or her seat at the bench. If you are charged with simple assault, for instance, and the possible penalty is only 30 days in jail, you would not be entitled to a jury trial. If you are a defendant in a criminal case, an attorney can assist you in deciding whether your testimony can help your case and prepare you for cross-examination by the prosecutor. Before the start of the actual trial, there are a few critical steps, including jury selection (if you’ll have a jury) and evidence requests. A judge may even direct you to move on from a point that you had every intention of emphasizing with a little theatricality. Consider hiring a lawyer to do the trial only - it would be well worth your money. 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