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  • There are few words in the English language more dramatic thantrial.”

  • After all, it’s the sexy part of lawthe theater of arguments, accusations, defenses

  • and human drama.

  • But it’s important not to get wrapped up in the bells and whistles of the civil trial

  • process

  • and focus on knowing what to expect so as to prepare and execute accordingly.

  • Let’s start right before the commencement of a trial, which means that a complaint has

  • been filed

  • the defendant has filed an answer and no settlement has been reached

  • nor has the court granted a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment.

  • Now comes the moment of truth.

  • But if you are just now thinking about a jury trial, it is too late.

  • You needed to have stated your desire for a jury trial when you filed your first pleading.

  • It is very important you make that demand in the complaint if you are a plaintiff, or

  • in your answer if you are a defendant.

  • Not every kind of case can be tried by a jury.

  • Some cases, like foreclosure, are tried by the judgemeaning they act as both judge

  • and jury.

  • So let’s say your case can be tried by a jury and you remembered to demand a jury trial

  • in your pleading.

  • How do you get ready?

  • Well, you start with the discovery process.

  • This gives each party the opportunity to collect information, documentation, testimony and

  • evidence in preparation for the trial.

  • Find out more aboutdiscoveryby checking out the LegalYou video on exactly this subject.

  • The parties notify the court that it can set trial with a Notice of Trial, which either

  • party can file as soon as the case isat issue.”

  • At issuemeans that there are no more pleadings to file and the court has disposed

  • of any motions attacking the pleadings.

  • The Notice of Trial includes the estimated time required for the trial

  • and whether it is to be tried by a jury.

  • The court can then set the case for trial on a date which is at least 30 days from that

  • order.

  • Remember to show up on time, have all your witnesses and exhibits at the courthouse ready

  • to go, and always, always bring a court reporter.

  • Without a court reporter, if something goes wrong at trial, you will never be able show

  • what happened and you won’t be able to appeal.

  • On the first day of the jury trial, the first thing you will be doing is choosing a jurywhich

  • entails the plaintiff, defendant and judge questioning potential jurors and determining

  • if theyre right for the case from their responses.

  • The judge is the captain of the ship and has a lot of leeway in what order things will

  • happen at trial and how much time will be allowed for each part.

  • But here is what typically happens

  • The trial begins with opening statements.

  • This is where each party, in turn presents their side of the case and either demonstrate

  • how they will get a judgment in their favor or rebut the case against them.

  • After opening statements, the plaintiff will begin their case.

  • This means questioning the witnesses the plaintiff wants the jury to hear from, as well as putting

  • exhibits into evidence.

  • Witness testimony, and then cross-examination, is really the heart and soul of any trial.

  • Usually, the party who calls the witness gets first crack.

  • That party asks all the questions they want the witness to answer, as long as the answers

  • are admissible.

  • That’s followed by the other party’s cross-examination.

  • This is where the opposing party gets a chance to show that the witness is biased, has a

  • faulty memory, or otherwise is not a good historian of the facts.

  • When you cross-examine a witness, it’s the only time you can, and should, ask leading

  • questions.

  • For example, if you have reason to believe that the witness wasn’t able to see the

  • color of a traffic light, you wouldn’t simply ask whether they saw the light.

  • You would use your best TV lawyer impersonation to make the statement you want them to agree

  • with, such asYou didn’t see the color of the light, did you?”

  • The original calling party can then do a “re-direct examinationon the same witness, to remedy

  • any damage from the cross-examination.

  • When the plaintiff has finished presenting their side, theyrest.”

  • That doesn’t mean they need a breather and a Gatorade.

  • It is just lawyer-speak for signaling they are done.

  • Then the defendant will present their case by calling witnesses and offer exhibits favorable

  • to their side.

  • Before and after the defendant’s case, the defendant may make motions to end the case

  • earlycalled a motion for a directed verdict in a jury trial.

  • That is, if the defendant thinks that the plaintiff hasn’t presented even the minimum

  • amount of evidence for a jury to decide in the plaintiff’s favor.

  • Then comes closing argumentseach party’s final chance to address the jury (or judge)

  • and sum up the evidence they presented in their case in the most favorable light possible.

  • After that, the judge gives the juryif the case is being tried by a juryits instructions.

  • Jury instructions tell the jurors the legal standards by which they must decide the case.

  • Then comes the judge or jury’s deliberation and verdict.

  • Basically their time to think.

  • Or, in the case of a jury, discuss the case and come to an ultimate verdict.

  • Jury verdicts are read aloud in court.

  • When it is read, listen closely, especially if it comes out against you.

  • If the findings of the jury make the verdict contradict itself, it is important to object

  • and point this out to the judge right away before the jury is dismissed.

  • After a jury verdict, the judge will thank the jury for their community service and dismiss

  • them.

  • Later, the judge will enter a judgment in favor of the party that the jury concluded

  • should win.

  • To give yourself the best possible chance at trialno matter which side you find yourself

  • onLegalYou is a tool that can’t afford to go unutilized.

  • LegalYou.

  • Where you are your own best lawyer.

There are few words in the English language more dramatic thantrial.”

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B1 US jury trial plaintiff case defendant judge

Trial

  • 19 1
    Amy.Lin posted on 2017/10/24
Video vocabulary