Legal Cases and Court

What you should know

Legal Cases

If you are going to court soon for a case you're involved in, you should familiarize yourself with basic law terms that can be applied when dealing with your case in a civil law suit.


Plaintiff- Person or group who originally filed the case against the defendant. Opposite of the defendant, the plaintiff wants something from the defendant, whether it be money, justice, etc.

Defendant- The person or group opposite the plaintiff who is trying to prove their innocence in a court case; defend themselves.

Complaint- A formal statement naming the plaintiff and defendant and describes the lawsuit

Summons- A document that tells of defendant of the suit against him or her and orders him or her to appear in court on a certain date and time

Pleadings- The complaint and the answer together

Pre-trial Conference- The judge might have both parties in a meeting to help clarify differences and prepare for the trial

Mediation- A mediator tries to get two parties to agree and settle their differences

Arbitration- An arbitrator weighs in on both sides of the case if they don't come to an agreement and makes a decision for them; it's binding

Trial- If the parties do not settle, you go to trial. A jury or just a judge alone will be there to hear the case and make a verdict. The plaintiff then the defendant present their information. Both sides then summarize their case, and finally the judge or jury decides the case.

Preponderance of evidence- One side in the case clearly has better, stronger, or just more evidence.

Verdict- The final decision in a case (convicted, acquitted).

Appeal- If you think something went wrong with your trial, you can appeal your case to a higher court. ex, from a district court, you can appeal your case to an appeals court