Pretrial Conference

Pretrial Conference in the United States

Meeting called by a judge to prepare a case for trial. A pretrial conference occurs just prior to trial and is called at the discretion of the court. The conference participants include the judge and attorneys for the parties. Conferences are designed to eliminate or narrow the questions that need to be tried. The idea is to produce some agreement on at least some of the fact questions. Agreement on such a question of fact is called a stipulation. If several issues can be stipulated, the trial need examine only the remaining contested questions. The point(s) of agreement and disagreement that emerge from a pretrial conference are embraced in an order that governs the remaining proceedings in the case. The conference thus serves to aid in the disposition of a case by focusing the trial on the fewest and narrowest items.

See Also

Stipulation (Civil Process).

Analysis and Relevance

Pretrial conferences used to be devices through which a trial judge could try to facilitate settlement of a case. Such an objective is no longer realistic. As a result of discovery, most cases that might settle do so before the time pretrial conferences are normally convened. This makes the removal of extraneous issues a primary objective of the conference. The conference also serves to reduce the element of surprise. To that end, witness lists and other documents not produced in discovery are exchanged. The conference, thus, is a device by which complete disclosure can occur. This minimizes the number of issues still needing court attention and may bring to light information that prompts settlement. Either of these consequences is of value to the court and probably the parties.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Pretrial Conference from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Pretrial Conference Definition in the context of the Federal Court System

A meeting of the judge and lawyers to plan the trial, to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review proposed evidence and witnesses, and to set a trial schedule. Typically, the judge and the parties also discuss the possibility of settling of the case.

Pretrial Conference

This section examines the Pretrial Conference subject in its related phase of trial. In some cases, other key elements related to trials, such as personal injury, business, and criminal litigation, are also addressed.

Pretrial Conference: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

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Federal primary materials about Pretrial Conference by content types:

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Federal Case Law and Court Materials

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Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

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Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Pretrial Conference and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Pretrial Conference or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Pretrial Conference and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Pretrial Conference. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Pretrial Conference should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Pretrial Conference when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

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