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Presiding over a Capital Case: A Benchbook for Judges (PDF files)

Chapter 1: Capital Cases and Federal Constitutional Issues

Chapter 2: Case Management

Chapter 3: Pretrial Matter Unique to Capital Cases

Chapter 4: Media and the Courts

Chapter 5: Jury Selection

Chapter 6: Trial Matters Unique to Capital Cases

Chapter 7: Mental Retardation

Chapter 8: Penalty Phase

Chapter 9: Post Conviction Proceedings in Capital Cases

Chapter 10: Federal Habeas Corpus


List of Checklists, Forms, and Samples

Below is a list of checklists, forms, and samples with links to PDF version of each document. Each item has been successfully used in capital cases. We hope you find these useful. Always be sure to check your own state’s caselaw, statutes and rules before using general forms or samples. If you have some suggested improvements to these documents, please email njc-capitalcases@judges.org.


Case and Statute References for Mental Retardation
Checklist -- Capital Case (PDF)
Checklist -- Capital Case (Excel)
Checklist -- Death Qualification
Checklist -- Initial General Voir Dire
Death Penalty Qualification Questions Asked to Prospective Jurors Flowchart
Form -- Consent to Media Coverage by Party
Form -- Consent to Media Coverage by Witness
Form -- First Round Jury Excuses
Form -- Instructions to the News Media
Form -- Receipt, Acknowledgment, and Agreement to Terms and Conditions of Order and Guidelines for Photographing, Recording, and Broadcasting in the Courtroom
Form -- Waiver of Counsel
Model Decorum Order
Model Decorum Order Highlight Summary
Model Juror Form on Death Penalty Views
Model Order and Guidelines for Photographing, Recording, and Broadcasting in the Courtroom
Model Order on Counsel Conduct
Model Restrictive and Protective Order
Sample Discharge Instructions to Jury in High Profile Case
Sample General Admonitions
Sample Official Jury Information
Sample Order for Press Access to Courtroom and Environs
Sample Order Regarding Publicity
Sample Pre-trial Publicity Questionnaire
Sample Protocol Form Jury Trial Procedures
Sample Remarks Advising the Jury Concerning the Death Penalty
Sample Rules for Conduct of Counsel While in Trial
Sample Sentencing Orders
Sample Website Page






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