Julia Good Law Firm

M7L2 Mastery Civics

How Civil Cases Begin

In order to prepare for what's ahead you need to educate yourself. A civil case begins when a plaintiff's attorney files a complaint. The court then sends a summons to the defendant ordering them to appear on a specific date. The defendant sends a response to the charges. These responses are called pleadings. In the pleading the defendant can either admit guilt or explain why they are not responsible.

Do We Have to go to Trial?

You do not have to go to trial. A Judge calls a Pretrial Conference. At the Pretrial Conference the two sides clarify the issues. The two sides can decide to resolve the issue outside of court through mediation or arbitration. During mediation both sides hear each other's thoughts, concerns, and issues. A trained mediator helps find a solution that will satisfy both sides. That solution is called a consensus. During arbitration, an arbitrator acts somewhat like a judge and resolves the dispute. Most civil cases are settled before trial.

The Trial Process

Your case can be heard by a judge or a jury of 6 or 12. The plaintiff presents their side first and the defendant goes after. The plaintiff must prove their case with a preponderance of evidence. This means they have enough to persuade the judge or jury that the defendant is responsible. The judge or jury will then decide a verdict. If the plaintiff wins, a solution is set. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff receives nothing and pays for all court costs. The plaintiff may appeal to a higher court if they choose to do so.