University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
CS655: Programming Languages
Spring 2000

Trial Procedure

The trial will follow US law as closely as possible with a few exceptions as described below. This describes my limited understanding of the US legal system; if you are actually arrested, I don't recommend you rely on the information here to defend yourself!


Defendant - the person accused of a crime. The defendant has rights afforded by the US Consititution. These include the right to a speedy and public trial (which we will uphold), the right to a jury of one's peers, and the right to refuse to testify (provided by the 5th Amendment, but not allowed in our Mock Trial.)

Prosecution - the attorneys representing the government. Their job is to present the case against the Defendant.

Defense - the attorneys representing the Defendant. Their job is to get the Defendant acquited, no matter how guilty he is.

Judge - the Judge rules on objections (whether or not it is fair to ask a certain question), and evidence (whether it is fair to present some evidence). The Judge does not decide whether the Defendant is guilty or innocent, but may issue instructions to the Jury on points of law, and decides the sentence (punishment) if the Jury returns a guilty verdict.

Jury - the Jury is 12 members of society who decide if the defendant is guilty or innocent. In a real trial, the Jury meets in a private room until everyone agrees. If they can't all agree, it is ruled a "mistrial", and they must start over with a new Jury. In our trial, each Juror will make their own decision and write a position paper describing it (and suggest a sentence if they rule guilty).


Witness Lists - before the trial begins, both the Defense and Prosecution must provide a list of the witnesses they intend to call.

Depositions - before the trial begins, both the Defense and Prosecution must interview their witnesses and provide transcripts to the other side. There are rules about whether or not questions different from those asked in the deposition can be asked at trial. In our trial, attorneys in direct examination will be allowed to ask questions not included in their depositions, but the Judge will disallow questions that he considers to be unfair surprises.


Opening Statements - One attorney from the Prosecution makes a short speech outlining the case against the Defendant. Then, one attorney from the Defense makes a short speech arguing the Defendant's innocence.

Prosecution Case - the Prosecution presents its case by calling witnesses. For each witness, there is:

Direct Examination - one attorney from the Prosecution asks the witness questions similar to those in the Deposition.
Cross Examination - one attorney from the Defense asks the witness questions.
Re-direct Examination - one attorney from the Prosecution may ask more questions, but only to clarify points brought up in the Cross Examination.
In our trial, the Judge will limit the amount of time available for cross examination and re-direct examination.

Defense Case - the Defense presents its case by calling witnesses (including the Defendant). The procedure for each witness is the same, except now a Defense attorney does the direct and re-direct, and a Prosecution attorney does the cross examination.

Closing Arguments - First the Defense, then the Prosecution, makes a final speech to argue for their side.

655 University of Virginia
CS 655: Programming Languages
Last modified: Mon Feb 26 12:48:18 2001