Trial Procedure for Defendants Representing Themselves In the Cañon City Municipal Court
This page was prepared to give an overview of the trial to the court procedure. It only covers normal procedures and may be used by a defendant appearing in the Cañon City Municipal Court without benefit of legal counsel. It does not cover all situations that may arise during the course of a trial, nor does it attempt to cover the rules of evidence or the rules of procedure. It should not be interpreted as legal advice. Its purpose is to assist in the orderly presentation of the case during a trial to the court. Jury trials are more complicated and the assistance of an attorney is strongly recommended.
- The case is called and you take your place at the defense table. The parties are asked if they are ready for trial. In juvenile cases the parent or guardian may sit and assist the juvenile during trial but may not act as the attorney. The juvenile must conduct the questioning, make the arguments and present the case.
- Opening Statement: The Judge asks if there are any opening statements. The City Prosecutor may or may not make an opening statement. The Defendant may reserve, waive, or make an opening statement. The opening statement is limited to what the party believes the evidence will show. The opening statement is not evidence and should not be a presentation of the Defendant’s entire case.
- City’s Case: The City Prosecutor presents the City’s case first. He calls witnesses to the witness stand and questions the witnesses concerning the facts of the case (direct examination). After the City Prosecutor finishes the questioning of a witness, the Defendant has the right to ask questions of the witness (cross-examination). This is not the time for the Defendant to testify. Questions should be directed to the witnesses’ testimony to test the witnesses’ recollection of the facts. After the Defendant has cross-examined a witness, the City Prosecutor may ask additional questions limited to the subjects covered on cross examination. When the City Prosecutor has completed all their witnesses and evidence, he will so indicate by stating, “The City rests”.
- Defendant’s Case: The Defendant need not present any witnesses or any evidence and is never compelled to testify. If the Defendant chooses to call witnesses, the Defendant will first question them and then they will be subject to cross examination by the City Prosecutor. The Defendant may testify but may also choose to remain silent and the fact the Defendant does not testify cannot be considered at trial. The Defendant who decides to testify will be cross examined by the City Prosecutor.
- Rebuttal: After the Defendant’s case, the City Prosecutor may call witnesses to rebut any testimony or evidence presented by the defense. The rebuttal case is limited to the subjects and facts covered in the Defendant’s case. When the Defendant completes his case, he announces, “The Defense rests”.
- Conclusion: Once the evidence is presented, the City Prosecutor may make a closing argument. This statement is not evidence but is merely a comment on the evidence produced during the trial, the law as it may apply to the evidence, and the possible guilt of the Defendant. The Defendant may then make a closing argument whether or not the City chooses to make one. The City Prosecutor is entitled to rebut the Defendant’s closing argument. When all of the evidence is completed and final arguments, if any, have been made, the Judge will render the decision.