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ch03 - THE TRIAL PROCESS THE Chapter 3 Chapter Issues...

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Unformatted text preview: THE TRIAL PROCESS THE Chapter 3 Chapter Issues Chapter • Nature of a lawsuit • Factors involved in litigation • Procedures and processes of litigating a Procedures dispute dispute The Adversary System The • Parties argue positions Parties before a court before • Underlying belief: Best Underlying way to discover the truth is through competing evidence evidence • Lawyers represent Lawyers competing claims competing • Judges don’t investigate • Court applies legal rules The Pleadings Stage The • Jurisdiction needed over Jurisdiction subject matter & parties subject • Notice given of lawsuit Notice by service of process through summons • Complaint – Alleges facts for Alleges jurisdiction & remedy/remedies remedy/remedies – Requests remedy(ies) – See Exhibit 3.3 • Responses to Complaint – Motion to Dismiss Motion (Demurrer) (Demurrer) • By defendant – Answer – Counterclaim – Affirmative Defenses Affirmative – Reply Reply – Motion for Judgment on Motion the Pleading the • Either party may file Either after pleadings have been completed been Discovery Stage Discovery (Legal Tools to Obtain Evidence) • Rules of Civil Procedure set guidelines & limits to the Rules process process • Purposes to 1) preserve evidence, 2) limit element of Purposes surprise, 3) encourage settlement surprise, • Depositions of parties and witnesses (including experts) • Interrogatories of the parties • Requests for Admissions • Orders of Production of Documents • Physical/Mental Examinations • Impacts on business--expensive & time-consuming • See Wauchop v. Domino’s Pizza, Inc. See Wauchop Wauchop v. Domino’s Pizza • • Domino’s Pizza had a 30minute delivery rule minute Wrongful death action by Wrongful family of woman killed during accident with Domino’s delivery vehicle Monaghan (Pres.) is requested to give deposition requested Pres. says he is not personally Pres. liable and 30-minute rule is not an issue of the case not Pres. claims that information Pres. may be gathered by other means and refuses to give • Plaintiffs file motion for Plaintiffs default judgment because Pres. refuses to give deposition deposition Court does not enter default Court judgment against Pres. And gives him an opportunity to comply with court’s orders Held: Plaintiffs are entitled to take the deposition to Pres. must give deposition Pres. and pay plaintiffs’ fees and • • • • • • Pretrial Stage Pretrial • Use of pretrial conference Use pretrial to simplify issues and plan course of the trial plan – Usually attorneys and Usually judge attend judge – Judge’s role is often to Judge’s work openly for settlement settlement – Summary Judgment-either party may either request request Jury Selection Jury • 6th & 7th Amendments gives right to a jury in gives jury criminal and common law cases law • If no use of jury, judge If becomes trier of fact becomes • Selection of jury involves Selection voir dire voir – Challenge for cause--a --a juror disqualified for a reason reason – Preemptory Preemptory challenges--attorney challenges--attorney rejects a juror w/o rejects Trial Stage Trial • Opening Statements by attorneys • Presentation of Direct Testimony • Motion for Directed Verdict requested by defendant’s attorney after plaintiff’s presentation of case; after both parties rest, either may request a Directed Verdict Directed • See May v. Hall County Livestock (directed verdict) See (directed • Closing arguments • Instructions to Jury (also called charges) also charges • Verdict by jury. Judgment may be set aside for jury misconduct. misconduct. – See Powell v. Allstate (Jury misconduct) See (Jury • Posttrial motions (Motion for New Trial or j.n.o.v.) Posttrial j.n.o.v.) May v. Hall County Livestock Improvement Assn. Improvement (Directed Verdict Case) (Directed • • May attended horse races; was at a table and made various trips May to and from it to Stood up for the 6th race; saw that her horse was going to win; Stood stepped away from table and slipped and fell; tried to catch her fall; lost consciousness fall; Sustained head injuries and a broken hip Racetrack owned by Hall County; May sues Hall She says there was liquid on the floor; concession manager says She that the floor was dry that Hall moves for directed verdict; court grants it; she appeals Held: Affirmed trial court’s decision for directed verdict. Plaintiff Held: failed to produce evidence that there were any conditions that failed were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. were • • • • • Powell v. Allstate Insurance Co. Powell (Jury Misconduct Case) (Jury • • Powell (African-American) Powell injured in vehicle accident injured Collects $10,000 from other Collects driver; sues Allstate for over $200,000 under underinsured motorist coverage motorist Case tried by jury (all Case White); Powell is awarded $29,320 $29,320 After trial, juror informs After Powell’s attorney & judge about racial jokes and statements during trial statements Powell requests new trial • • • • Trial court denied request for Trial new trial; Powell appeals new Appeals court affirms Powell appeals to Supreme Powell Ct. of Florida for new trial based on jury misconduct based Held: Reversed. Case Held: remanded for trial court to conduct a hearing to learn if racial statements were made. If so, trial court is directed to If order new trial. order • • • Remedies Remedies • Monetary Monetary damages damages – – Compensatory Punitive or Punitive exemplary exemplary – Nominal • Equitable Equitable remedies remedies – Specific Specific performance performance – Injunction • Permanent • Temporary Appellate Stage Appellate • Arguments before the Arguments court court – Written Briefs – Oral Arguments • Decisions by the court – Majority opinion – Concurring opinions – Dissenting opinions • Outcomes of decisions – Affirmed – Modified – Reversed – Remanded • See “German Trial Procedure” re: a different country’s system system Enforcement Stage Enforcement • If no further appeal is If available, judgment becomes final becomes • It is res judicata It • Enforcement of Enforcement judgment is through writ of execution of • Court may order an Court official (i.e. sheriff) to help satisfy judgment through an act (such as seizure/sale of property, garnishment, etc.) garnishment, New Maine National New Bank v. Nemon • • • • • • • • • • Nemon borrows $125,000 from bank & promises to pay collection Nemon costs if he did not repay loan costs Nemon doesn’t pay; bank sues for breach of contract Trial court grants summary judgment; grants relief w/bank costs Trial Bank obtains writ of execution against Nemon Bank writ He does not comply; fails to produce documents or appear in He court court Court charges Nemon with contempt & authorizes arrest, but Court stays sentence so that Nemon may appear re: contempt charge stays Nemon fails to appear; court issues arrest warrant Nemon pays balance due on original judgment; bank moves to Nemon collect the additional sums of post-writ-of-execution expenses collect Court grants expenses of $8000 to be paid; Nemon appeals Court Held: After “merry chase” of this man, judgment is affirmed. Held: Treble costs are awarded to New Maine National Bank. Treble Burdens of Proof • Criminal Standard: Beyond a reasonable doubt. • Civil Standard: Beyond a preponderance of the evidence. • Res Judicata – “the thing is settled”; refers to the fact that you get one chance thru the system; once that is over, you cannot try the case again. Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict • Civil case: The judge may override the jury verdict in either direction; if the jury finds for the plaintiff, the judge can enter a verdict for the defendant if there is not sufficient evidence supporting the jury verdict, or vice versa. • Criminal case: The judge may override the jury verdict ONLY in favor of the defendant; if the jury finds the defendant not guilty, the case is over.. Additur or Remittitur. Judge may also change jury $ award in civil cases. So, when you hear about large jury verdict, remember, the court almost always reduces those award. The people who complain about these awards almost never mention this. Other Terms • Statutes of Limitations: All criminal and civil cases, except murder and failing to file a tax return, must be brought within a certain time period. • Class action suits: allows plaintiffs with the same fact situations to band together and sue the defendant in one action. Allows for judicial efficiency. For example, a plane crashes. If the airline was negligent, the same proof would apply to all passengers. Only need one trial on liability. Criminal charges can be brought in two ways: a Grand Jury Indictment or a prosecutor issues an Information. All federal crimes are by Indictment. Called a grand jury because it is larger than a normal jury of 12 (maybe 20 people). Attachment and Garnishment: Once the Plaintiff wins, he needs a way to collect his money. He can attach tangibles and garnish intangibles. Standing: Only the person injured can sue. He has standing. If you were in a car accident, I could not file suit on your behalf. Damages • Compensatory: Compensate for actual injuries suffered; med. exp., lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering. • Punitive or Exemplary: Punishment for outrageous behavior. • Nominal: Jury thinks you are right, but you haven’t proven damages; $1. As a policy question, should lawyers be allowed to work on a contingency, getting paid only if plaintiff wins? Ask yourself, if you were hurt in a car accident, could you come up with a $10,000 retainer to hire an attorney. Most of us couldn’t, so contingency fees allow people into court who couldn’t otherwise afford it. Contingent Fee vs. Fixed Fee: Loser Pays Winner’s Legal Fees: Same issue for loser pays. If you had to pay the legal fees of the other party if you lost, could you afford to file a lawsuit. Only the rich could afford it. You might get rid of some frivolous cases, but you would get rid of many more. How sure would you have to be of your case before you filed? 80%, 90%.Then, all the cases that are only 60% or 75% likely to win, would be excluded. Using the pay your own lawyer only system increases the number of people who can use the system. Should Judges Have to Give Reasons for Decisions? Article: “Justice in the Dark” • • • • • • • Concerns over appeals courts that dispose of cases without Concerns published reasons published Article states that federal appeals judges dispose of 79% of the Article 26,819 cases in unpublished decisions Over 7% of unpublished decisions have a single word, such as Over “Affirmed” “Affirmed” The U.S. Supreme Court almost never accepts for review an The unpublished opinion Complaint is that this is precedent without known reasoning to Complaint prevent same problems in the future prevent The “shortcut system” stems from a backlog of cases that create a The veritable avalanche of caseload on the appeals courts veritable “Judges insist that unpublished decisions are only in simple, noncontroversial cases, where the answer is clear-cut.” ...
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