Rule 17.1 Pretrial Conference

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On its own, or on a party's motion, the court may hold one or more pretrial conferences to promote a fair and expeditious trial. When a conference ends, the court must prepare and file a memorandum of any matters agreed to during the conference. The government may not use any statement made during the conference by the defendant or the defendant's attorney unless it is in writing and is signed by the defendant and the defendant's attorney.


(Added Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; amended Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1966

This new rule establishes a basis for pretrial conferences with counsel for the parties in criminal cases within the discretion of the court. Pretrial conferences are now being utilized to some extent even in the absence of a rule. See, generally, Brewster, Criminal Pre-Trials—Useful Techniques, 29 F.R.D. 442 (1962); Estes, Pre-Trial Conferences in Criminal Cases, 23 F.R.D. 560 (1959); Kaufman, Pre-Trial in Criminal Cases, 23 F.R.D. 551 (1959); Kaufman, Pre-Trial in Criminal Cases, 42 J.Am.Jud.Soc. 150 (1959); Kaufman, The Appalachian Trial: Further Observations on Pre-Trial in Criminal Cases, 44 J.Am.Jud.Soc. 53 (1960); West, Criminal Pre-Trials—Useful Techniques, 29 F.R.D. 436 (1962); Handbook of Recommended Procedures for the Trial of Protracted Cases, 25 F.R.D. 399–403, 468–470 (1960). Cf. Mo.Sup.Ct. Rule 25.09; Rules Governing the N.J. Courts, §3:5–3.

The rule is cast in broad language so as to accommodate all types of pretrial conferences. As the third sentence suggests, in some cases it may be desirable or necessary to have the defendant present. See Committee on Pretrial Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States, Recommended Procedures in Criminal Pretrials, 37 F.R.D. 95 (1965).

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 17.1 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only, except as noted below.

Current Rule 17.1 prohibits the court from holding a pretrial conference where the defendant is not represented by counsel. It is unclear whether this would bar such a conference when the defendant invokes the constitutional right to self-representation. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975). The amended version makes clear that a pretrial conference may be held in these circumstances. Moreover, the Committee believed that pretrial conferences might be particularly useful in those cases where the defendant is proceeding pro se.