Before and During Trial

Pretrial Conferences: Typically, there are several hearings in the weeks before the trial where the judge and attorneys will work to narrow issues for trial, discuss witnesses and exhibits, and draft a "Pretrial Order" that serves as both a set of rules and an outline for the trial.

Pretrial Motions: Immediately before trial, the judge in your case will consider pretrial matters raised by the lawyers such as a "Motions for Summary Judgment" (which is granted to the moving party when it clearly establishes that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law), instead of a trial. This is done during the discovery phase before the trial.

Jury Selection: Judge and attorneys question potential witnesses to ensure the jury picked is unbiased and impartial.

Opening Statements: Each side offers an introductory statement of what they believe the evidence will demonstrate during trial.

Presentation of Evidence - Plaintiff or Prosecution: The Plaintiff (civil) or Prosecution (criminal) presents their case through witnesses and exhibits. After a direct examination, the defense cross-examines them.

Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law: If the plaintiff or prosecution does not provide enough evidence for a rational jury to find basis for guilt or liability, the defense is granted a favorable judgment as a matter of law.

Presentation of Evidence - Defense: The defense will present its case in the same manner as the plaintiff or prosecution earlier.

Rebuttal and Surrebuttal: At this time, additional witnesses can be called by either side to clarify or contradict any testimony that has already been offered.

Closing Arguments: Each side will offer a summary of the evidence and argue how the fact-finder (judge or jury) should make its findings and inferences based on the evidence that was presented during trial.

Jury Instructions: The judge will read general authoritative counsel to the jury about the deliberation process as well as the applicable law and legal elements that are to be applied during the jury's deliberations.

Deliberations and Verdict Judgment: They jury deliberates and renders a verdict. Based on the verdict, the judge will enter a legal judgment or, if there is no jury, the judge's own factual findings in a bench trial.

This is a basic outline of a trial. If you have any questions, contact member services to speak with an attorney.