Kitson Law-Civil Cases

By: Courtney Kitson (Module 7-Lesson2)


My name is Courtney Kitson and I am a defendant lawyer. If you are being sued, I'll defend you and help you through this process. I'm a lawyer in civil court cases only-not criminal. I do suits in property disputes, contract issues, divorces, negligence, and personal injury.

Step 1

The person or group that is suing you, called the plaintiff, will have his/her own lawyer called the plaintiff's attorney. The plaintiff's attorney will file a complaint with the court. A complaint is a formal notice that a lawsuit is being brought to the court. You will then receive a summons, which is a notice directing you to appear in court to answer the complaint or the charge.
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Step 2

I then may respond to the charges against you with pleadings. A pleading is the complaint and the answer to the complaint together. The plaintiff's attorney and I will then gather evidence to help our own case.

Step 3

*This next step in a civil case can have different options and routes. The first option is a mediation. A mediation is when a third party (the mediator) helps the plaintiff and I reach an agreement. If we reach an agreement (get a settlement), then we won't go to trial. If we do not reach an agreement then we will proceed to trial. A trial is a formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury, in order to decide who is guilty in a civil court case.

*The second option we could do is could go to an arbitration. An arbitration is a situation in which a thirds party listens to the plaintiff's attorney and I, he/she will review the case and make a final decision that is binding for both parties (theirs and ours). After the arbitration, we cannot go to trial, it is done.

*The third option is to directly proceed to a trial. The first step of the trial process would be a pre-trial discussion/conference. A pre-trial conference is when the judge meets both parties to help clarify differences and prepare for the trial.

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Step 4-Trial

In front of a judge and a jury, the plaintiff and I will present our sides and evidence of the case. The plaintiff will present his side first. The plaintiff and I will then summarize our case. We will present all our evidence and put our witnesses on the stand. After all of this, the judge or jury will decide the case. The trier of fact, either a judge or a jury, will decide the who wins the trial by using a standard called the preponderance of evidence which is really deciding which side's evidence is "more likely than not" to be the truth. The side with the greater weight of the evidence will emerge victorious.
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Step 5-Verdict

The verdict is the decision in a court made by a judge or jury. If we lose the case then we will likely have to pay money to the plaintiff, but if we win the plaintiff will get nothing and will be stuck with paying the court costs in some cases.

If we lose and we think that something went wrong in the handling of the case by the court or jury, then we can appeal the decision to a higher court.