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What happens at a criminal trial?

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If case is unable to be resolved, at some point it will be called for trial. In many Southeast Minnesota counties, many cases will be called to court on a single day (commonly known as a “cattle call”). The judge will determine which cases are going to trial, and set a schedule for cases to be heard for trial. Depending on where a case is listed, the case may be continued, or heard for trial. At trial, the first thing that happens is picking a jury. Through a process known as voir dire, the judge and the lawyers question potential jurors about their ability to be fair and impartial in the particular case. Jurors who, for whatever reason, do not meet that standard are excused for cause. The lawyers are also granted a certain number of “strikes” where they can excuse a juror for no reason at all. After a jury is selected, the lawyers make opening statements. These statements are designed to give the jury an outline of the case, from each side’s perspective. The prosecutor makes his or ... more
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