Explaining Civil Cases

Vocabulary

Plaintiff

  1. In civil law, the party who brings a suit or some other legal action against other (the defendant) in court.

Defendant

In a civil suit, the person against whom a court action is brought by the plaintiff; in a criminal case, the person charged with the crime.

Complaint

Is a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable, a reason for dissatisfaction.

Summons

Is an order to appear before a judge or magistrate, or the writ containing it.

Pleadings

Is the action of making an emotional or earnest appeal to someone.

Pretrial Conference

  1. Is if the Defendant(s) answers the Complaint, the case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference. At the conference, the parties will meet with a judicial officer in an attempt to narrow the issues, determine the number of witnesses to be called, the length of the trial, and to discuss the possibility of settlement.


Mediation

Is an intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration

Arbitration

Is the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute.

Trial

Is a formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury, in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings

Preponderance of Evidence

Is the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other. This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence.

Verdict

Is a decision on a disputed issue in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.

Appeal

Is to apply to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court.