Michigan CSC Case: Jury
Generally, misdemeanors are handled by the district or municipal court where the offense occurred. The initial stages of felony cases, including arraignment and preliminary examination, are also held at the district court. Once the district court finds sufficient evidence for the defendant to be charged with a felony, the case is then transferred to the circuit court where the offense occurred.
Jurisdiction and Venue of a CSC Trial
The court having jurisdiction in a criminal case is also the venue for the criminal case, unless either party to the case asks the court to change the venue. If the court finds good cause for changing the venue, the case can be moved to another county’s circuit court. Good cause sometimes includes excessive pre-trial publicity that may have tainted the jury pool, rendering all potential jurors incapable of being unbiased.
CSC Trial: Opening Statements
Opening statements are the first chances for each attorney to give a “road map” to the jury. The prosecutor gives an opening statement first, then the defense attorney. The opening statements highlight what each attorney intends to show, to prove, or disprove during the trial. Opening statements do not contain any legal arguments, but may contain the side’s theory of the case. Opening statements cannot be argumentative or suggest inferences that the jury should draw from the evidence. Opening statements themselves are not evidence, and cannot be considered by the jury as evidence. Defense attorneys are sometimes allowed to wait to make their opening statement until the prosecution has presented all of its evidence and witnesses.
Direct Examination of CSC Witnesses
Each party, both the prosecution and defense, have an opportunity to direct examine their own witnesses, which means each party gets to ask its own witnesses questions while the witness is testifying. Direct examination is performed to elicit evidence in support of facts, which will help the prosecutor prove the elements of the crime or help the defendant prove his defense. Attorneys are generally prohibited from asking leading questions during direct examination of their own witnesses, which prevents the lawyer from feeding answers to a favorable witness. An exception to this rule is if the court has declared the witness to be hostile, in which case either party may ask leading questions.
Cross-Examination in the CSC Trial
Cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one’s opponent. Defense attorneys will cross-examine all of the prosecution’s witnesses and the prosecutor will cross-examine any of the defense witnesses, if any were called. The defendant is not required to call any witnesses or present any evidence. Leading questions are allowed during cross-examination. Impeachment of a witness occurs during cross-examination, which is where the attorney attempts to lessen the weight of unfavorable testimony.
CSC Trial: Presentation of Evidence
During the criminal trial, both sides have an opportunity to present evidence. The prosecutor has the first chance to do this during its case-in-chief, where it is required to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence includes witnesses’ testimony, real evidence, which includes things like medical evidence or weapons, and demonstrative evidence, which includes things like photos, x-rays, diagrams, or graphs. Demonstrative evidence is evidence in the form of a representation of an object.
Before evidence is admitted into the case, the attorney presenting the evidence must lay a foundation using the rules of evidence. Before a witness can testify, a lay witness must have personal knowledge of the event they are describing. A lawyer presenting evidence by using an expert witness must first show that the person is an expert in that subject area. When introducing physical evidence, the lawyer must authenticate the evidence and establish the chain of custody to ensure that the evidence has not changed since it was first collected.
Rebuttal of CSC Evidence
Rebuttal evidence is evidence that is presented to contradict or nullify other evidence that has been presented by the other party. Prosecutors may call rebuttal witnesses to contradict a defendant’s alibi witness. Rebuttal witnesses are only allowed to testify to the subject matter of the evidence that is to be rebutted. New evidence or subjects may not be brought in during rebuttal.
Closing Arguments of the CSC Trial
Closing arguments are the attorneys’ last chances to talk to the jury and explain why or why not the defendant is guilty. The prosecutor will use their closing argument to apply the facts and evidence of the case to the law and argue that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor will restate all of the evidence, which helps prove each element of the offense. The prosecutor may not comment on the defendant’s silence or somehow imply that the defendant must prove himself innocent.
The defense attorney will use their closing argument to poke holes in the prosecutor’s logic and arguments and highlight the evidence or lack of evidence that creates reasonable doubt. Closing arguments may only contain evidence that was introduced at trial, but attorneys are allowed to argue about the lack of evidence. The attorney cannot vouch for the credibility of witnesses, talk about her personal opinions about the case, or appeal to the jury’s emotions.
Mistrial of a CSC Trial
A judge for a variety of reasons can declare mistrials. Some reasons include: the court determining that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, evidence was improperly admitted, misconduct by a juror or party if it violates the defendant’s due process rights, or a hung jury. A hung jury means that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. Mistrials often result in a retrial on the same case, which means that the prosecution must present all of its witnesses and evidence at an entirely new trial, complete with new jurors.
CSC Trial; Verdict
After the attorneys complete their closing arguments, the judge will give the jury instructions about the case and the law they are to apply, and then the jury will deliberate. After deliberations, the jury must reach a unanimous verdict of guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is charged with multiple crimes, or lesser-included crimes, every juror must agree what crimes, if any, the defendant is guilty of. The verdict is the formal finding of fact made by the jury. A guilty verdict causes the judge to render a judgment of conviction.
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