Sidebar Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Sidebar, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Sidebar?

(n) Sidebar is the area in front of the judges bench between the jury desk, judges bench and witness stand. Judge take confidential information from individuals especially lawyers from here.

History and Meaning of Sidebar

A sidebar is a term used in legal proceedings to describe a conversation or discussion that occurs between the judge and attorneys outside the hearing of the jury. It often takes place at a small table, called a sidebar, that is located near the judge's bench but out of the jury's earshot. During a sidebar, lawyers are able to consult with the judge on legal matters that may arise during the trial, such as objections, evidence, or legal arguments.

The purpose of a sidebar is to allow lawyers to discuss legal issues that may not be appropriate for the jury to hear or that might disrupt the course of the trial. The judge ultimately decides whether to allow or disallow evidence, legal arguments, or other matters related to the trial, but a sidebar provides a forum for a judge and attorneys to discuss such issues before the trial continues.

Examples of Sidebar

  • During the trial, the prosecutor requested a sidebar with the judge to object to the defense's line of questioning.
  • The judge held a sidebar with counsel to determine whether certain evidence was admissible in court.
  • Defense counsel approached the sidebar to raise a concern regarding certain physical evidence that was being presented.
  • At a sidebar, the judge informed the attorneys that they needed to wrap up their arguments quickly due to time constraints.

Legal Terms Similar to Sidebar

  • Bench Conference: A private, off-the-record conversation among the judge and attorneys that takes place at the judge's bench.
  • In camera: A legal term referring to a private discussion, examination or hearing that takes place in the judge's chambers or other closed setting.
  • Voir Dire: The jury selection process, which can also include sidebars or bench conferences between the judge and attorneys to discuss potential jurors.
  • Objection: An expression of disagreement or opposition by an attorney, and which may lead to a sidebar conference with the judge.