The Life Cycle of a Civil Litigation Case

The civil litigation process can be divided up into several unique stages. These stages include the investigation, pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, settlement or trial, and even appeal. The discovery stage is often the longest and most labor-intensive stage of any case. Unlike they are portrayed on Hollywood television, civil attorneys spend most of their time in the discovery phase and very little time in the actual trial.

It’s important to note that not every single lawsuit passes through each stage of investigation, pleadings, discovery, pretrial, and so on. A majority of today’s lawsuits are settled by agreement of the parties and they never actually reach the courtroom.

In a civil trial, a judge or jury is asked to examine an array of evidence to decide whether the defendant should be held legally responsible for their actions. A trial is the plaintiff’s opportunity to argue his or her case, in the hope of obtaining a judgement against the defendant. Once both sides of the case have had time to present their arguments, the judge or jury then considered whether to find the defendant liable for the plaintiff’s claimed damages. These days, a civil trial will often consist of six main phases, including:

Choosing a jury – During the jury selection, the judge will question a pool of potential jurors. These questions will be general, as well as specific, pertaining to matters of the case. The judge has the power to excuse potential jurors at this stage, based on their responses to questioning.

Opening statements – Once a jury has been selected, the first “dialogue” comes in the form of two opening statements. One from the plaintiff’s attorney, and one from the defendant’s attorney.

Witness Testimonies and cross-examination – During the witness testimony and cross-examination, the plaintiff will methodically bring forth evidence in an attempt to convince the jury that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her damages. At this point of the case, the plaintiff may call witnesses and experts in to testify in order to strengthen his or her case.

Closing arguments – Similar to the opening arguments, the closing arguments offer the plaintiff and the defendant a final chance to sum up their case. It is here that they will recap their respective positions and any evidence that was brought forward during the trial.

Jury instruction – Once each side has actively had a chance to present their evidence and make a closing argument, the judge will give the jury a set of legal standards it will need in order to decide whether the defendant should be held accountable for the plaintiff’s alleged harm.

Jury deliberation and verdict – After they receive instruction from the judge, the jurors are sent to a room to deliberate the case. Once the jury reaches a final decision, the jury foreperson will inform the judge, and the judge will announce the verdict in open court.We hope this clears up any questions you had regarding civil litigation.

If you live in Georgia and you need a civil litigation attorney, contact The Law Office of Tanika L. Finney today. We specialize in a variety of areas from civil litigation to tax controversies and simple estate planning, and we would love to help

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