Most courts will not approve a jury charge until after the close of all evidence. Therefore, the charge conference will often take place once a jury has been dismissed for the day or prior to the time that a jury reports for the day. Lawyers should have the pattern jury charges on hand during the charge conference as well as copies of their proposed charge. Experience lawyers will also have a template of prior jury charges to help expedite the matter.
I. Cause of Action – Each cause of action pled by the plaintiff should be the subject of a jury question. The trend in recent years is for each respective side to produce a proposed jury charge as part of a Joint Pretrial Order. In the event any changes need to be made, a party may submit an amended jury charge. Regardless, the most recent jury charge on file is the one that will be taken up in the conference. Lawyers should be prepared to argue all aspects of the jury charge. While most jury instructions are form submissions, some jury questions require special instructions, which should be listed prior to the question. For large cases, have an appeals attorney to consult is wise.