Pretrial Orders

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In military courts-martial, the judge will disseminate a list of deadlines that the prosecution and the defense are bound to meet in order to keep the case on track for its trial dates. This pretrial order has the force of a judicial order and even carries with it the potential to be found in contempt if it is not followed.

A pretrial order sets out specific dates when certain documents must be filed with the other side and some that must also be filed with the court.

The pretrial order may establish a deadline for counsel from both sides to conduct a pretrial conference. Both sides must provide the other with requested witnesses, witness lists, and requests or notice of use of experts. The judge will also set a deadline to file motions and motion responses.

Often military judges will require a certain minimum notice if either side plans to use video evidence at trial.

Not long before the trial, both sides must submit requested questions to ask the potential panel (jury) members to test any potential biases. These questions are known as voir dire. For more information about picking a panel, please see this post.

The week before trial, the final list of witnesses must be turned in and the prosecution has to submit the list of all potential members for the panel (if there is a panel). The designation of alternates comes on what are known as vicing orders.

The prosecution is also responsible for submitting proposed flyer / cleansed charge sheet (a list of the offenses without all of the Personally Identifiable Information that the charge sheet contains, a seating chart (which is by seniority of the members), and the proposed findings and sentencing worksheets.

The findings and sentencing worksheets are the form that the members fill out when making their final decisions.