When a person has never been to court before, an upcoming trial can be rather daunting. It helps to do some research and get a general idea of how court trials work.
Court proceedings are governed by the laws of the jurisdiction in which they take place. Courts may be subject to rules, called “court procedure,” issued by their presiding authority. For instance, federal courts must follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, while municipal courts are held to local rules.
Before any trial takes place, there is typically a series of pre-trial motions which are argued on behalf of one or both parties before the court. Each motion will ask the judge to make a ruling on a particular legal question, and a party is generally only allowed one motion per case. Judges grant these motions after considering written legal memoranda from both sides.
In civil cases, most jurisdictions require parties to submit a pre-trial statement. This document summarizes the facts which each party uses to support their claim or defense. In criminal cases, this stage is often replaced by a plea agreement, in which the defendant acknowledges that they have committed the offenses charged.
Witnesses are called to testify at the trial before the judge or jury. The opposing sides give opening statements, present evidence, and make closing arguments to summarize their case. The testimony is then used to prove whether a version of events is true or false. Oftentimes a certified court videographer Massachusetts records these proceedings for later review.
No matter the case, a court trial can be a complicated process with many loopholes. It’s important to have some guidance when navigating the legal system, preferably from a lawyer. With a better understanding of the process, an individual may have an easier time finding a resolution.