Smith Brothers Law Firm

Daniel and Tyler Smith, Attorneys at Law

The steps to a good Civil Trial

To begin a Civil Trial one must first issue a Complaint, a written legal document stating their problem. The person who issues the complaint is known as the Plaintiff, the person who is suing the other person, known as the Defendant. Once the Complaint is filed the court will issue a Summons, or a request to appear in court, to the Defendant and any pertinent witnesses. The next phase is the Defense Pleadings. This is when the Defendant's Attorney responds to the Plaintiff's Complaint in what is known as the answer. Each side gathers important information to their sides argument. Most cases are settled by this point, the evidence shown in the Pleadings strongly favors one person so the other does whatever the one wants to avoid a trial. The two ways of out of court settlement are known as Arbitration, and Mediation. A mediator facilitates the settlement discussions, but does not decide the winner. A arbitrator hears both sides and then makes a decision on the winner, this is the easiest way of solving a dispute. However, if this does not happen the Judge calls for a Pretrial Conference. Both sides meet before the Judge in a final preparation for trial. When a Trial begins, the Plaintiff tells their story, then the Defendant tells their side either to a jury or a judge depending on the pretrial agreement. The two sides summarize their arguments and then the jury decides the verdict. In order for a jury to rule in favor of the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff must show a Preponderance of Evidence. This is a complicated way of saying that there is enough evidence to meet the standards for a guilty verdict. After the Verdict is made any party can make an Appeal. An Appeal is made when one party feels the trial was misconducted or the wrong decision was made. It is sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals and they decide on the case.

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