How to Conduct Pre-Trial Motions

What are Pre-Trial Motions?

Pre-Trial is your first impression with the judge and the first time the jury hears your team speak. Therefore, it’s crucial that you deliver your pre-trial and how well your attorney delivers in those first few minutes.

Should You Deliver Pre-Trial Motions?

Yes! Many teams forget to do this step. Not only does pre-trial make your team look better, you’re allowed to enter important case documents such as stipulations, the federal rules of evidence, or rules of competition.

Pre-Trial Format

  1. The judge will ask your side (or the room as a whole) whether there are any pre-trial matters that the court should attend to. Usually, the prosecution/plaintiff will go first but if the opposing team does not go, you may use this time to go.
  2. Whoever performs pre-trial motions for your team will stand and respond with:
    1. “Yes, your Honor.”
  3. The attorney will make appearances before the court.
    1. “First, your Honor. We’d like to make introductions before the court.”
    2. (Wait for Permission from the Judge), (If nothing for a few seconds, proceed)
    3. Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening your Honor. My name is (John Doe) along with my Co-Counsel (Joe Smith) and (Jane Brown). We represent the defense/prosecution/plaintiff(Anytown Police Department), in today’s trial.”
  4. The attorney should ask for the judge’s preference for moving about the courtroom (if not asked already). It is usually best to ask permission for exactly what you would rather do as an attorney rather than letting the judge decide (as it sets control). Make sure you note what permissions you have and don’t have as it’s bad to ask for permission and then ignore the judge’s instructions.
    1. “We’d like to ask your Honor’s permission to move about the well freely.”
  5. Ask for permission to Approach Opposing Counsel and the Witness
    1. “Your Honor, I ask your permission to approach the opposing counsel and witness when necessary.”
    2. The Judge will usually reply with: “Please ask permission to approach the witness. You do not have to ask permission to approach counsel” (Usually)
  6. The Attorney will offer copies of the stipulations, relevant case laws, rules of competition, etc. to the bench. To expedite matters, if the judge allows you to approach to tender these documents, an attorney who is not doing pre-trial should tender documents to the bench.
    1. “Next, your Honor, the defense/prosecution/plaintiff has some documents that we’d like to tender to the bench. May I approach?”
    2. Wait for Approval
    3. Approach the judge with the documents (Stipulations/Rules of Evidence) and identify what they are for the court: “We have here the federal rules of evidence and a copy of the stipulations for today’s case.”
  7. (Different per State/Team) Your Attorney will invoke Rule XXX for the constructive sequestration of all non-party witnesses. In a real court case, sequestration would be the removal from the courtroom of all witnesses when they are not testifying. In Mock Trial, doing this constructively allows the witnesses to remain in the courtroom to simplify and expedite this process. In theory, these witnesses are not aware of the testimony of anyone else.
    1. “Lastly, your Honor, we’d like to invoke rule 615: the constructive sequestration of all non-party witnesses. The defense/prosecution/plaintiff designates (John Smith) as our party representative today/we have no party representative.
    2. The Judge may or may not ask the other side to designate a party representative.
    3. NOTE: The Federal Rules of Evidence lists Rule 615 for Sequestration. The rule number may differ if your state does not use the Federal Rules of Evidence. 
    4. Some judges are not frequent with Mock Trial rules so you may need to explain what constructive sequestration is for them.
  8. Finally, the attorney will let the judge know that his side is ready to proceed.
    1. “With that your Honor, the defense/prosecution/plaintiff is ready to proceed.”

Sample Pre-Trial Motions

= Judge | = Attorney 1 | A2 = Attorney 2

  • J: Are there any pre-trial matters that we need to attend to?
  • A1: Yes, your Honor.
  • J: Go Ahead
  • A1: First, your Honor. We’d like to make introductions before the court.
  • J: You may proceed
  • A1: Good Morning your Honor. My name is John Doe along with my Co-Counsel Joe Smith and Jane Brown. We represent the plaintiffAnytown Police Department, in today’s trial.
  • A1: We’d like to ask your Honor’s permission to move about the well freely.
  • J: Please ask permission to approach the witness. You do not have to ask permission to approach counsel.
  • A1: Next, your Honor, the defense/prosecution/plaintiff has some documents that we’d like to tender to the bench. May I approach?
  • J: You may
  • A2: Hands documents to Judge
  • A1: We have here the federal rules of evidence and a copy of the stipulations for today’s case.
  • J: Is there anything else?
  • A1: Lastly, your Honor, we’d like to invoke rule 615: the constructive sequestration of all non-party witnesses. The plaintiff designates John Smith as our party representative today
  • J: Granted
  • A1: With that your Honor, the plaintiff is ready to proceed.