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Domestic violence trials are extremely complicated. Each case is unique with its own set of facts. As well, the dynamics of the complaining witness and accused must be considered in making a decision to take a domestic violence case to Trial. Some cases must be tried. Some cases should be tried. Some cases should not be tried and should be settled at the Pretrial Conference.

The accused has the right to a jury trial in a domestic violence case. The jury consists of twelve jurors and some number of alternates. In a relatively short Trial lasting one or two weeks, the judge will usually insist on two alternate jurrors. In a longer case, the judge may want more alternate jurors.

Chamber's Conference

The Chamber's Conference is where the prosecutor and defense attorney discuss certain aspects of the case with the judge who will preside over the Trial. The judge will inform the attorneys the particular procedures which are to be followed throughout the Trial. Matters, such as scheduling are settled, as well as the number of witnesses which are expected to be called. As well, the attorneys will give the judge a general estimate of the amount of time it will take to complete the Trial.

Motions in Limine

Either in the Chaber's Conference or in open court on the record, the attorneys are allowed to request Orders in Liimine or Pretrial Orders regarding specific issues they expect may arise in the case. Typically, Motions in Limine are calculated to control what evidence the jury will hear and see. The judge in a domestic violence Trial is like the director in a movie, controlling what the jury will learn about in deciding the case.

There are particular rules of evidence unique to domestic violence cases. One such rule is Evidence Code section 1101, subdivision (b).

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