(818) 986-0968

Civil TRIALS – What To Expect

The process of a civil trial can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific case, but there are some general steps that typically occur.

Steps/Procedure Leading Up to Trial

Filing of the Complaint: The first step in a civil trial is for the plaintiff, the party bringing the lawsuit, to file a complaint with the court. The complaint outlines the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant, including the facts that support the claims and the relief sought.

Service of Process: The defendant must be formally notified of the lawsuit. This is done by serving the defendant with a summons and a copy of the complaint.

Answer: Once the defendant has been served, they have a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint, typically 20-30 days. The defendant’s response is called an answer. In the answer, the defendant can admit or deny the allegations made in the complaint, and may also raise any defenses they have. A defendant also may challenge a defective complaint with a responsive pleading other than an answer.

Discovery: The next phase of a civil trial is discovery. During this phase, both parties have the opportunity to gather information and evidence from the other side. This can include taking depositions, issuing subpoenas, and requesting documents.

Pre-trial Motions: After discovery, the parties may file pre-trial motions. These are requests to the court asking the judge to make a ruling on certain issues before the trial begins. For example, a motion for summary judgment may be filed if a party believes that there is no dispute of fact and the case should be decided by the judge without a trial.


Trial: If the case has not been resolved through pre-trial motions, it will proceed to trial. This is where the parties present their evidence and arguments to the judge or jury. The plaintiff has the burden of proof and must present evidence to support their claims. The defendant may present evidence to refute the plaintiff’s claims or to support their defenses.

Verdict: After the evidence has been presented and the parties have had the opportunity to make their closing arguments, the judge or jury will deliberate and reach a verdict. If the case is tried before a jury, the jury will decide the outcome. If the case is tried before a judge, the judge will decide the outcome.

Judgment: After the verdict, the judge will enter a judgment. The judgment will be in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. If the judgment is in favor of the plaintiff, the judge will also order the defendant to pay damages or take other action. If the judgment is in favor of the defendant, the case will be dismissed.

Appeal: Either party may appeal the judgment if they believe it was based on a legal error. The appeals process can be lengthy and may involve additional legal proceedings.

It’s important to note that the process can be different depending on the jurisdiction and the specific case, so it’s always best to consult with a lawyer if you have any questions. However, the above discussion sets forth the basic procedures involved and what an entity or individual involved in a lawsuit can expect leading up to trial..

Comments are closed.