Law & Order Legal Question

This is about a TV show but it’s really a legal question, so I’m posting it here. MODs may move it to Cafe Society if they wish.

During last nights trial, the defendant’s wife was in the courtroom during the trial. She was later called as a witness.

In other shows, not necessarily L&O, they’ve usually depicted prospective witnesses waiting in the hall or other location. Are witnesses allowed to sit in on the trial before giving their testimony? Or does it vary from state to state? I’d think that if a person were planning to color their testimony, seeing the prior witnesses testimony would enable them to do a better job of it.

Witnesses can remain in court unless one of the attorneys invokes “the rule”. The rule is usually invoked for the reason you state; to prevent one witness’ tesimony from coloring another. Once the rule is invoked the witnesses, subject to a few exceptions, must leave the courtroom and not discuss any testimony unless testifiying.

Forgot to mention: in a criminal trial, one of the exceptions to the Rule (usually capitalized) is that the spouse of a defendant may remain in the courtroom.

Thanks pravnik. Wouldn’t it benefit the prosecution to invoke the rule in all cases? I guess I don’t understand why it’s not standard practice.

Well in last night’s program, the person in question was the defendant’s spouse. So she would have been able to stay in any case.

It pretty much is. In the little over a year I spent as a law clerk in federal court I rarely saw a case where it wasn’t invoked. The only time it wasn’t was when there was a relatively small number of witnesses and it was pretty well known what everyone’s testimony would be.

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.