What Can I Expect From the Trial?

What happens at trial?

Each side presents their side of the story. This includes offering exhibits and bringing in experts to offer opinions. As one side presents their case, the other side gets to ask questions of all of the witnesses. After both parties have presented their sides of the story, the court will either listen to closing arguments in person or (more commonly) will ask both sides to submit written closing arguments. After all closing arguments are filed (usually about one month after trial), the judge has 90 days to make a decision.

Will the case be decided by a judge or jury?

This is a complicated question. Different claims provide a person a right to a jury trial. For instance, criminal charges. But in civil litigation, whether a party gets a jury trial is not so obvious. The best practice is to consult an attorney. Explain the claims and the case and the attorney will be able to tell you whether the case will be decided by a jury or a judge.

An overly simple answer is this: if you are seeking a money judgment, you can ask for a jury trial. If you are seeking other relief, such as the determination of a question, the location of a boundary line, or an order for someone do or not do something, then a judge decides the case. If the case involves both types of claims… well, it’s easy to see how it gets complicated. Discuss the details with your attorney to find out what to expect.

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