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trial-steps

Page history last edited by abogado 12 years, 10 months ago

 

Pre-trial Procedures in Civil Cases

Suits begin with the filing of a complaint in the proper court. The person filing the suit is often referred to as the plaintiff; the person or entity against whom the case is filed is often referred to as the defendant. In some areas of law, such as domestic relations, the person filing the complaint is the petitioner, and the person against whom the case is filed is the respondent.

 

The complaint states the plaintiff's version of the facts, the legal theory under which the case is brought (negligence, for example), and asks for certain damages or other relief. The plaintiff also files with the court clerk a request that a summons (or notice) be issued to the defendant. In many jurisdictions, the summons will be served by a deputy sheriff or special process server. In other jurisdictions, it may be served by mail. It notifies the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her.

 

After being notified, the defendant has a certain period of time to file an answer admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint.

 

 

How Courts Work

Steps in a Trial

Civil and Criminal Cases

The law deals with two kinds of cases. Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses. A civil case usually begins when a person or organization determines that a problem can’t be solved without the intervention of the courts. In civil cases, one (or more) of these persons or organizations brings suit (i.e., files a complaint in court that begins a lawsuit).

Criminal cases involve enforcing public codes of behavior as embodied in the laws, with the government prosecuting individuals or institutions. In a criminal case, the government brings charges against the person alleged to have committed the crime.

 

What types of cases are civil? Divorce and related lawsuits (child support, custody, and the like) account for a very large number of civil cases. Cases involving contracts are also frequent. Automobile collisions account for many tort (personal injury) cases, another common kind of civil case. An auto collision gives rise to a civil case if one driver sues the other, or if a passenger in one of the cars sues either driver. An auto collision might also lead to a criminal case, if it involves allegations of a crime such as drunken driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

 

In many parts of the world, civil and criminal legal actions are combined into one case, but in our country they are not. If there are serious civil and criminal aspects of an event, there will be two (or more) distinct cases. An example would be a crime leading to a criminal trial of the defendant, with the victims filing a separate civil suit against the defendant to recover damages caused by the crime.

 

 

Settling Cases

Relatively few lawsuits ever go through the full range of procedures and all the way to trial. Most civil cases are settled by mutual agreement between the parties. A dispute can be settled even before a suit is filed. Once a suit is filed, it can be settled before the trial begins, during the trial, while the jury is deliberating, or even after a verdict is rendered.

 

A settlement doesn’t usually state that anyone was right or wrong in the case, nor does it have to settle the whole case. Part of a dispute can be settled, with the remaining issues left to be resolved by the judge or jury.

Criminal cases are not settled by the parties in quite the same way civil cases are. However, not every case goes to trial. The government may decide to dismiss a case, or be ordered to do so by a court. The defendant may decide to plead guilty, perhaps as a result of negotiations with the government that result in dismissing some of the charges or recommending leniency in sentencing. Plea bargains are a very important and efficient way to resolve criminal cases.

 

 

Civil and Criminal Cases

The law deals with two kinds of cases. Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses. A civil case usually begins when a person or organization determines that a problem can’t be solved without the intervention of the courts. In civil cases, one (or more) of these persons or organizations brings suit (i.e., files a complaint in court that begins a lawsuit).

 

Criminal cases involve enforcing public codes of behavior as embodied in the laws, with the government prosecuting individuals or institutions. In a criminal case, the government brings charges against the person alleged to have committed the crime.

 

What types of cases are civil? Divorce and related lawsuits (child support, custody, and the like) account for a very large number of civil cases. Cases involving contracts are also frequent. Automobile collisions account for many tort (personal injury) cases, another common kind of civil case. An auto collision gives rise to a civil case if one driver sues the other, or if a passenger in one of the cars sues either driver. An auto collision might also lead to a criminal case, if it involves allegations of a crime such as drunken driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

 

In many parts of the world, civil and criminal legal actions are combined into one case, but in our country they are not. If there are serious civil and criminal aspects of an event, there will be two (or more) distinct cases. An example would be a crime leading to a criminal trial of the defendant, with the victims filing a separate civil suit against the defendant to recover damages caused by the crime.

 

Pre-trial Procedures in Civil Cases

Suits begin with the filing of a complaint in the proper court. The person filing the suit is often referred to as the plaintiff; the person or entity against whom the case is filed is often referred to as the defendant. In some areas of law, such as domestic relations, the person filing the complaint is the petitioner, and the person against whom the case is filed is the respondent.

 

The complaint states the plaintiff's version of the facts, the legal theory under which the case is brought (negligence, for example), and asks for certain damages or other relief. The plaintiff also files with the court clerk a request that a summons (or notice) be issued to the defendant. In many jurisdictions, the summons will be served by a deputy sheriff or special process server. In other jurisdictions, it may be served by mail. It notifies the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her.

 

After being notified, the defendant has a certain period of time to file an answer admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint.

 

 

Jurisdiction and Venue

The plaintiff's lawyer must decide where to file the case. A court has no authority to decide a case unless it has jurisdiction over the person or property involved. To have jurisdiction, a court must have authority over the subject matter of the case and

 

  • the court must be able to exercise control over the defendant,
  • or the property involved must be located in the area under the court's control.

The extent of the court's control over persons and property is set by law.

 

Certain actions are transitory. They can be brought wherever the defendant may be found and served with a summons, and where the jurisdiction has sufficient contact with one of the parties and the incident that gave rise to the suit. An example would be a lawsuit against a business--it would probably be sufficient to file suit in any county in which the business has an operation, and not necessary to file suit in the county where it its headquartered.

 

Other actions - such as foreclosing on a piece of property - are local. They can be brought only in the county where the subject of the suit is located.

 

Venue refers to the county or district within a state or the U.S. where the lawsuit is to be tried. The venue of a lawsuit is set by statute, but it can sometimes be changed to another county or district. For example, if a case has received widespread pre-trial publicity, one of the parties may make a motion (request to the judge) for change of venue in an effort to secure jurors who haven’t already formed an opinion about the case. Venue also may be changed for the convenience of witnesses.

 

 

 

 

 

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