Do You Know When to Request a Sidebar?

After a party objects to the admission of evidence, the proponent of the evidence can respond by arguing that the objection doesn’t apply or isn’t valid, or that the evidence is admissible because of an exception to the ground stated in the objection. Where that argument is made can make a big difference—should you argue in open court or in a sidebar conference? What is a sidebar? Sidebar conferences between court and counsel are conducted quietly at the side of the court’s bench with the jury present but unable to hear what’s being said. The California Rules of Court, Standards of J Admin 2.20(b)(8) provides that judges should permit sidebars only when necessary and keep them as short as possible. When are sidebars permitted? When sidebars are permitted, they usually follow an objection during a witness’s testimony that counsel wish to argue about out of range of the jury’s hearing. If the discussion is meritorious, the judge may…

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