53

In order to accommodate various objections that have arisen in recent generations, in general: You are allowed to "affirm" instead of "swear" You do not have to say "so help me God" You do not have to place your hand on a Bible or any object These variances are often allowed by statute. A witnessed "solemn affirmation" has the same legal consequences as ...


35

In Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), the Supreme Court held that Neither a State nor the Federal Government can... pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs. In this ...


29

The ceremonial hammer is called a gavel and usually looks like this: Stock image used with permission (Gavels in India and in the U.S. Senate which received its gavel as a diplomatic gift from India, don't have handles.) It is used in both courts and public meetings (most often city council meetings or legislative body committee meetings, but also, for ...


23

Some of the documents are here. As document 61 of the trial, the government motion for bench trial, argues, There is no constitutional right to a jury trial for criminal contempt charges resulting in a sentence of imprisonment of six months or less. Arpaio responds in document 62 that Defendant Arpaio acknowledges that there is no constitutional ...


14

Unless you received an order from the court prohibiting contact, it might be legal; but it's probably not the best idea. Let the lawyers handle it Attorneys have far better, more effective means of dealing with this situation than the course of action you describe. Lawyers have productive tools to accomplish the job and they know how to use them. For ...


14

Can a jury render a verdict that contravenes with binding precedent? Yes, but (if it is a guilty verdict) it will be overturned on appeal. The appeal court will say that the jury's verdict was not one which any reasonable jury could have made on the basis of the evidence and the instructions in the case. As explained in Dave D's answer, the trial judge ...


11

According to Baldwin v. New York (1970), "the federal right to jury trial attaches where an offense is punishable by as much as six months' imprisonment" (1). That, is a crime is considered petty unless the maximum punishment exceeds six months' imprisonment. Moreover, Arpaio is being charged with criminal contempt. According to 42 U.S. Code § 1995, "the ...


8

I have beaten all but one of my traffic tickets just by going to court. In one case, the judge threw out the charge because he couldn't read the officer's handwriting on the ticket. In another, the officer charged that I was parked in a "no parking" zone on a particular street (at night), but gave a cross street where parking was, in fact, allowed.


8

Advisory opinions violate the separation-of-powers doctrine. The "case or controversy" clause helps enforce this separation. The judicial branch is responsible for resolving legal disputes by interpreting and applying existing law. In doing so, it may incidentally modify or extend the law. Courts are only supposed to do this to the extent necessary to ...


8

Here is an article at the American Bar Association web site that helps explain the instructions to a jury. From that article: The judge will point out that his or her instructions contain the interpretation of the relevant laws that govern the case, and that jurors are required to adhere to these laws in making their decision, regardless of what the ...


8

To extend what @ohwilleke said, I have a little bit more information that's hopefully useful. Gavels are a feature of U.S. courts: they don't exist in courtrooms of the UK or Commonwealth countries (e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.; link from the UK Judiciary, but also found in Wikipedia articles on Canadian courts). While doing some brief (couple ...


8

There is no such law mandating this layout, nor is there any law permitting the defendant to demand a change to it. The arrangement seems most likely to have been driven by security concerns when courts began removing "the dock" and letting the defendant past the bar to sit with his attorneys. One court has also concluded that it was meant to assist the ...


7

Your hypothetical contains a false premise. Witnesses are not allowed to make "opening remarks." Witnesses are only allowed to answer questions (while under oath) — not make remarks. Any "remarks" or statements that are not responsive to a question will most likely either be the subject of an objection and, therefore, not allowed. Or otherwise ignored ...


7

It is purely ceremonial. The tendency in modern jurisprudence is towards the practical and away from legalisms and technicalities. Even if a judge used a gavel in some way inappropriately, it would be unlikely to have any legal significance for anyone but the judge. An argument based on gavel misuse would fall into the "fringe-on-the-flag" category of legal ...


7

The potential problem is if there is a form which you had to sign which says "I am a US citizen", and you signed the form (who reads the fine print, anyhow?). Unfortunately, that statement is false, and there are consequences for making a false statement. However, that law penalizes false statements with the intent to deceive, not mistaken statements. ...


6

This is largely congruent with* the doctrine of laches. The basic idea, under common law, is that you can lose rights by failing to assert them. This is generally important for many reasons, but specifically in the case of appeals: The argument should have been brought before the trial court. Justice is not a game, but it's important to recognize that ...


6

There are two types of appeals. Under de novo appeals, the facts are questioned, in which case it is possible to raise new (factual) arguments, almost as if the first proceeding had never taken place. Most appeals are appeals on the record, which means that only the application of the law is being appealed. Under these circumstances, the facts (as found by ...


6

The reality is that it is almost never an acceptable tactic to use in any jurisdiction where I ever have/or currently do practice. The bar is relatively small no matter where you are; even in bigger cities. Your reputation is your most valuable asset and it would be crippled if this became your M.O., or was used in anything but the most rare and egregious ...


6

I think most people in the courtroom would roll their eyes, and, if you were lucky, your foolishness would be ignored. Quite probably you would receive a little lecture from the Judge to the effect that legal proceedings are serious and you ought not trifle. My $0.02? Don't screw around while under oath or, in fact, at any time while in a courtroom. ...


6

What do I do? Promptly hire a new lawyer. Dispute claims for fees to the extent that they were not earned or that no value was conferred.


6

Overview This would not be uniform for all courts, even in a single state, nor would it be the same for all kinds of evidence. Also, few rules regarding the timing of disclosure of evidence are absolute. A judge's handling of a request to introduce late disclosed evidence is reviewed for abuse of discretion, not de novo, on appeal, so a judge is afforded ...


5

First, Judge Judy is not a real court. Judith Sheindlin was a real judge, but then she retired to be on TV. The show depicts arbitration proceedings, which both parties agreed to. If both parties want it, and if he agrees, you can have arbitration proceedings where R. Lee Ermey presides and keeps order by means of screaming at you and ordering calisthenics ...


5

In the United States, the question that determines whether it's perjury is whether or not you believe what you said was true. Whoever— (1) having taken an oath..., willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or (2) ... willfully subscribes as true any material matter which ...


5

In the U.S., pretty much the only circumstance in which a proceeding like the one you contemplate could occur without the criminal defendant present physically in the courtroom would be one where the criminal defendant was physically present when the trial started (say on the morning of day 1) and then failed to return after a break in the proceedings ...


5

Any precedent can be overturned by any court at the same or higher level in the hierarchy So, for your example of a High Court precedent, it can be overturned at Supreme Court, Court of Appeal or High Court levels. However, the longer a precedent is in place, the less likely it is to be overturned because one of the objectives of the legal system is to ...


4

Some United States Supreme Court rules are helpful, though these rules are not stated as applying to any other court. Timeframe The brief must be submitted within a certain time period, depending on the case at hand: An amicus curiae brief in support of a petitioner or appellant shall be filed within 30 days after the case is placed on the docket or a ...


4

In the United States, appeals are generally appeals on the record. The only thing that can be challenged is process; that is, appeals must contend that there was something unfair or incorrect about the process of the original proceeding.


4

Dress respectably. Don't forget any documents (either those that support your explanation, or that you might have been instructed to bring). Printed Emails are fine unless you have been instructed otherwise. Arrive at the court on time and prepared to follow instructions and be respectful. Beyond that nobody expects that someone entering a magisterial ...


4

Legally speaking, yes, witnesses can talk to each other unless the judge has told them not to. The problem is that it can create the appearance of improper influence, or improper motive, and judges don't like that stuff. The last thing an attorney wants is a judge grilling her about why her witness has been calling the other side's witness Witnesses have ...


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