After the jury has been selected and sworn the trial of a case proceeds generally as follows
An opening statement is made by the attorney for the plaintiff or by the prosecuting attorney. The attorney for the defendant may then make an opening statement. The purpose of opening statements is to outline to the jury what each side, or party, believes the evidence will establish.
Following the opening statements, the prosecuting attorney or the attorney for the plaintiff presents evidence. Thereafter, the defendant may present evidence. There may also be rebuttal evidence.
Evidence falls into two classes - testimony and exhibits. Testimony consists of statements made by witnesses under oath. Exhibits are physical objects such as photographs and written documents. The examination of witnesses by the party calling them is "direct Examination." Each party has a right to ask questions of the other party's witnesses. This is "cross examination."
Rules of evidence have been developed through the years so that we may have fair and orderly trials. When a question is asked or an item of evidence is offered which either attorney believes is in violation of these rules, the attorney has a right to object to the question or use of the exhibit. The judge then decides whether the question is to be answered by the witness or whether the item of evidence may be used. At times the jury may be excused for the courtroom while objections are being discussed or for other reasons. Under the law, various matter must be heard out of the presence of the jury.
When all parties have presented their evidence, they "rest". At this time the judge will determine what instructions on the law shall be given to the jury. Each attorney has the right to make suggestions and objections. This process may take some time.
The judge then reads instructions on the law to the jury. The instructions define the issues the jurors must decide and tell the jurors the law that governs the case. You should listen very carefully to these instructions bearing in mind that it is your sworn duty to follow the law as set forth in the instructions. You will have the written instructions for your use in the jury room. After the instructions are read to you the attorneys make their closing arguments in which they summarize the evidence and try to persuade the jury to find in favor of their respective clients. You will go to the jury room to consider the case and reach a verdict. In the jury room you will elect a foreman and review the evidence according to the judge's instructions.
When the jury reaches a verdict the jury will be returned to the courtroom. The judge or the clerk will read the verdict, and the jury may be polled to determine if the verdict that has been read accurately reflects the juror's verdict. Then you will be discharged.