COURT TRIAL PROCEDURES
FOR DEFENDANTS REPRESENTING THEMSELVES
IN A TRIAL TO THE COURT IN BROOMFIELD
This information is designed to assist Defendants who choose to represent themselves in a Trial to the Court in Broomfield Municipal Court. It is a general overview of trial procedures. It by no means covers all situations that may arise during the course of a court trial. It is intended to assist in your preparation for trial, and the orderly presentation of evidence at the trial.
If you are a juvenile defendant, one of your parents must appear with you on the date of trial. Your parent will sit next to you so that you can consult with your parent during the trial. However, your parent may not represent you or act as your attorney. The juvenile must represent himself, and be prepared to proceed to trial on his own behalf.
If you have any witnesses that you feel will be necessary to testify at the trial, you will be required to have them in attendance. Verbal and written statements from persons who are not in the courtroom to testify on the date of trial are known as hearsay statements. Hearsay statements are not admissible or permissible at trial, because the witnesses are not under oath and subject to cross-examination questions from the opposing party. If a potential witness advises you that they are unavailable to testify at your trial, you must subpoena them to your trial. You should obtain a subpoena from the court well in advance of your trial date. You must have your witness served with the subpoena at least 48 hours prior to the time of trial. The service (delivery) of the subpoena must be by another person who is not a party to your case and is over the age of 18 years. You must then file a Return of Service with the Court showing that your witness was personally served.
Your case will be called by the Judge, and the Judge will inquire if you are ready to proceed to trial.
The trial will begin with the opportunity for Opening Statements from the prosecuting city attorney, and from you if you choose to make one. An Opening Statement is not evidence; it is merely a statement of what the city attorney and the defense intend to prove during the course of the trial.
An opening statement is not mandatory, and it may be waived by either the city attorney or the defense. After the city attorney has made his opening statement to the court, you may either make an opening statement, waive your opening statement, or reserve your right to make an opening statement until after the city attorney has presented his case to the court.
City Attorney’s Case
The city attorney will then call his witnesses, and introduce any physical evidence he may have, and question his witnesses concerning the incidents involved in your case. After the city attorney has finished questioning each witness, you will then have the right to question that witness. This is called cross examination. Your questions must be relevant and appropriate to the matters the witness testified to and must bear a relationship to the incidents involved in the case.
Once the city attorney has completed his case, you may make an opening statement, if you reserved your opening statement. The defendant is not required to submit any defense case, nor call any witnesses, nor testify himself. However, you may call witnesses to testify on your behalf and to question them concerning the incidents involved in the case. Just as you have a right to cross examine the city’s witnesses, the city attorney has the right to also question and cross examine each of your witnesses.
Defendant’s Right to Testify or Not (Curtis Advisement)
Since it is the city attorney’s burden to prove each and every element of the offense for which you are charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you are presumed to be innocent. You will be given what is called a Curtis Advisement by the court, which advises you that you have a constitutional right to remain silent, and if you choose to remain silent, the city attorney may not comment on that fact, and the court will not infer any guilt by the fact that you chose to remain silent. You also have a constitutional right to testify, and if you choose to testify, you are then waiving or giving up your right to remain silent, and you subject yourself to cross examination by the city attorney the same as any other witness. If you have any felony convictions as an adult, then the city attorney may introduce that information to the court in an attempt to impeach your credibility or the believability of your testimony.
After you have concluded the presentation of your evidence, the city attorney may present additional evidence, which is called rebuttal testimony, to rebut or contradict any evidence you presented during your case. After the city attorney concludes presenting rebuttal testimony, the evidence in the case is concluded.
The city attorney now has the opportunity to make a closing argument, arguing why, based on the evidence which has been presented, the court should find you guilty of the offense you are charged with committing. You then have the opportunity to also make a closing argument, arguing why, based on the evidence which has been presented, the court should find you not guilty of the charged offense. Finally, since the city attorney has the burden to prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, he will have the last opportunity to speak, and will be allowed to present a rebuttal closing argument.
Closing arguments are not evidence and cannot be considered by the court as evidence. Any questions or statements which you make which are not in the form of sworn testimony cannot be considered by the court as evidence in the case, nor in the court’s determination of the final judgment.
Findings and Verdict of the Court
The court will then make its decision, based upon the evidence that has been submitted to the court during the course of the trial, and the law that is applicable to the charges in your case.
Right to Appeal
If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal your case to the District Court of Broomfield County within 35 days of the date of the final judgment.