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A pretrial hearing is a meeting in which the opposing attorneys confer, ordinarily with a judge to work towards the disposition of a case. In such meetings the discussion is related to the matters of evidence and narrowing of issues that will be tried.
Such conferences are held shortly before trial and ordinarily results in a pretrial order. A pretrial hearing is also known as pretrial conference. In civil cases, such meetings are used to clarify legal issues and other matters that can be handled before the trial. Pretrial hearings are governed by rules of state and local courts. These rules vary by jurisdiction.
The following is an example of a state rule (New Jersey) on pretrial hearing:
Pretrial Hearings. The court may conduct hearings to resolve issues relating to the admissibility of statements by defendant, pretrial identifications of defendant, and sound recordings at any time prior to trial. Upon a showing of good cause, hearings as to the admissibility of other evidence may also be conducted at any time prior to trial. [N.J. Court Rules, R. 7:7-5].