The Basics of Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is a judicial process wherein two parties who are in a dispute resolve the problem through the court system. In the U.S., there are formal procedures and rules for every stage of the process. A civil litigation lawyer handles civil cases, as opposed to criminal cases.

To initiate a civil action, the plaintiff must file a complaint in court against the defendant. Typically, the complaint is a simple statement describing the problem at hand, along with a request for damages. The plaintiff should interview with a civil litigation attorney to find out if they have a practical claim. The attorney will then draft the complaint in a way that showcases the plaintiff’s case in the best light possible. Ideally, a claim will endure any motions from the opposing party. A sheriff or other person who has authority will serve the defendant the complaint. Then, the defendant must respond to the complaint within a certain time period. Usually, the defendant has 21 days to respond.

Once the defendant responds to the complaint, the discovery phase begins. During this phase, which is carried out under court supervision, the following procedures take place:

• Material is presented prior to trial so that there aren’t any unexpected pieces of information brought up during trial.

• Both parties exchange documents relevant to the case.

• Depositions are taken from parties and witnesses.

Following the discovery phrase, a conference is scheduled pre-trial to resolve any issues that may still be outstanding. At this point, the plaintiff and defendant may settle out of court. If settlement is unlikely, though, a trial date will be scheduled. During the trial phase, your attorney must know several tactics, including:

• How to present you and your witnesses to the judge and jury

• How to cross-examine opposing witnesses

• Ways to be aggressive with a witness without angering the jury

• When to object with a compelling argument

• How to keep damaging evidence out of the trial

• How to include critical evidence in the trial

• Ways of staying likable even if the client is not

• How to tell a persuasive story

If you are a party in a civil litigation case, it’s crucial that you have an attorney on your side who has in-depth knowledge of civil procedure and court rules. At Angelino Law, we are adept at knowing court regulations, how they will affect each case and how to use them in our client’s favor. Additionally, we’re knowledgable about each phase of the civil litigation process, from interviewing clients pre-trial to drawing out key information from the opposing party.

For more information about civil litigation, contact Lorenzo Angelino at (845) 214-1133 or langelino@angelinolaw.com.

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