How To: Civil Law!

Teaching you all about civil law

The Beginning

We first start off with a complaint that is filed by the plaintiff. This is a formal statement that names the defendant and describes the lawsuit. The plaintiff is the one suing and the defendant is the one that defends themselves in court. After the complaint, the defendant is then sent a summons which states the suit against them and orders them to appear in court on a certain day.

The Process Before Trial and Trial

The defendant may "answer" to the complaint with their own attorney. Pleadings are the complaint and answer together. They gather evidence and respond to with pleadings to accusations against them. They then do a pretrial conference which is when the judge will have a meeting with both sides to help clarify differences and prepare for trial.


The parties can chose a mediation which is a form of alternative dispute resolution. This is when a mediator assists the parties to negotiate a settlement. They can also chose arbitration which is another alternative dispute resolution that brings in a person or people and they discuss the case and make a decision that can be enforced by law. They agree in advance to comply with the outcome. These are a way to not have to go to trial.


If they don't do either of these things, they will go to trial. They will either be in front of a jury of 6-12 people or the judge alone will hear the case. After this judge or jury decides the case. They rule by preponderance of evidence which is a standard of proof that must be met by the plaintiff in order to win the case. This is known as meeting their burden of proof. Then the judge decides the verdict. The verdict is when the judge decides if either the defendant has to pay or the plaintiff gets nothing and they have to pay court costs. If a party doesn't like an outcome, that can appeal it to the next step at the appeals court and have it decided if the trial was fair or not.