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Importance of Requests to Charge in a Medical Malpractice Case

At the end of a trial, before closing remarks are given, the attorneys will give the judge a list about various areas of laws that the judge should instruct the jury about. This is known as Requests to Charge. The lists of the plaintiff and defense attorneys will obviously be different. Each of the two lawyers will be listing things that the jury should be instructed about, which are going to be favorable to their client in the case.

Charge Conference

There is a meeting called the Charge Conference, which is held in the private chambers of the judge, with court reporter present. The judge will go through the Requests of Charge, and during the conference, the judge will hear the arguments from the attorneys, and determine whether he should or should not give specific instructions to the jury on the various requests the attorneys are asking.

The judge might ask from the lawyer why this particular charge should be given, and the attorney will have to provide a valid explanation. The opposing lawyer will also obtain the opportunity to voice his response to the particular charge request. He will try to explain to the judge why that particular area of law and the specific instructions should not be given to the jury. After hearing both the lawyers, the judge will have to make a decision.

The judge will go through every request made, and will either agree or disagree with the request. The list of the plaintiff will be taken first, and then the judge will go through the defense's list. At the end, the judge will talk about all the Requests to Charge, and the additional instructions he will be giving to the jury.

What is the Purpose of Requests to Charge and the Charge Conference?

The Requests to Charge made by the two lawyers, and holding the Charge Conference, both serve an important purpose. Before the closing remarks are delivered by the two attorneys, the attorneys come to know what the judge is instructing the jury about the laws governing this particular type of case. This is critical for the attorneys to know, because then they can base their closing remarks on what was instructed, and comment on particular points that they feel are important.

Judge Communicating with the Jury

When the jury receives particular instructions from the judge, they will be paying particular attention to the points made, and will have better understanding of the laws governing the case. The lawyers will construct their closing remarks carefully, and will base their comments on the points the judge has instructed the jury. When such closing remarks are delivered, it will have more of an impact, since the jury is tuned in to this information.

The lawyers can make the jury focus on specific points that they would have heard the judge give instructions about, which can play a big role when it comes to the verdict. Therefore, Requests to Charge, and the subsequent Charge Conference, are tremendous aspects of a medical malpractice case in New York.

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