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In the United States, the sidebar is an area in a courtroom near the judge's bench where lawyers may be called to speak with the judge so that the jury cannot hear the conversation and/or they may speak off the record. Lawyers make a formal request by stating "may I approach the bench?" or, simply "may I approach?" to initiate a sidebar conference. If it is granted, then opposing counsel must be allowed to come forward and participate in the conversation.
The term is also used generically to describe any conversation where some participants in a proceeding or meeting may step aside to discuss information not shared with the group.
- "sidebar". TheFreeDictionary.com.
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