I was in trial last week, when opposing counsel asked the judge for a side-bar. The judge and I both chuckled, since it was a bench trial, but the sidebar took place, I believe without the court reporter present. I’m not sure the other lawyer understood the chuckles.
Black’s Law Dictionary explains: ”Side-bar. Refers to position at side of the judge’s bench where trial counsel and judge discuss matters out of hearing of jury. It is important that such conferences be recorded if they are to be considered on appeal. New Jersey v. Green and Guida, 129 N.J.Super. 157, 322 A.2d 495, 499.”
So, no need for a side-bar during a bench trial, unless you are trying to avoid cluing in a witness on something. In this case, the lawyer asking for the side-bar had his own witness on the stand and the question had to do with a document that everyone knew about anyhow.
I’m still scratching my head over that one. Don’t think it made the other attorney look very experienced and he’s older than me by almost a decade. Oh well, that’s trial.