What is involved with a trial
If your case goes to a jury trial, these are the generally steps involved:
- Motions in limine and other pre-trial motions. Usually before the trial starts the judge will rule on pre-trial motions made by both parties that set forth some ground rules and addresses some evidentiary issues.
- Selecting Jury. In a jury case, the first step is to question prospective jurors to determine whether they can be fair and impartial. The law allows us to excuse three jurors without giving any reason (peremptory challenges). Any juror may be excused for cause, i.e. if the juror cannot be fair and impartial. The grounds for challenging a juror for cause are pretty limited.
- Opening Statement. After selection of the jury, each attorney has the opportunity of telling the jury what the case is about, and what proof will be presented.
- Presenting Witnesses. The Plaintiff calls its witnesses first and presents its case by way of witnesses and exhibits. The Defendant is given the right to question the Plaintiff’s witnesses when the Plaintiff has finished asking them questions through a process called crossexamination. When the Plaintiff has finished presenting its case, the Defendant is given the opportunity to call its witnesses. The Plaintiff has the right of crossexamination of those witnesses.
- Instructions. Once all of the testimony has been presented, the Judge will instruct the jury concerning the law of the case.
- Closing Argument. After the Judge has instructed the jury on the law, I will address the jury on your behalf. The Defendant’s attorney is then given the right to argue on behalf of his client, and I am given the opportunity to rebut the Defendant’s argument. The jury then retires to the jury room to deliberate the case. In some cases the defendant has admitted liability or the judge has ruled as a matter of law that the defendant is liable. In that case, the jury only decides the amount of the verdict.
- Post-trial motions. The winning party is entitled to some limited, specifically enumerated costs, such as the filing fee, service of process fees, mandatory arbitration fee, the cost of medical records actually admitted into evidence at trial, and the pro rated costs of depositions actually used at trial. The losing party may move for a new trial if there was an irregularity with the trial.
- Appeal. Either party may appeal from the result within 30 days after entry of the judgment.