Steps of a lawsuit

Essay by toniskyUniversity, Bachelor's April 2006

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Once legal action is sought against someone or something, the soon to be plaintiff's attorney conducts a preliminary investigation before taking the case. The preliminary investigation consists of a thorough exam of any pertinent information relating to the case. Once completed, the attorney will make his/her recommendations. This will sometimes consist of many possibilities. Once the plaintiff has made his/her decision, the lawsuit begins.

First, a summons and a complaint is prepared and delivered to the defendant. The complaint outlines the nature of the case and the summons is an order for the defendant (or authorized person) to appear in court or to answer the summons. After being served, pretrial proceedings begin. This allows both parties to become familiar with the nature of the claim and discuss possible alternative courses of action. In some cases, a motion could be filed to dismiss the lawsuit or a pretrial conference would take place to decide if the suit could be settled out of court.

Once a decision is reached to go to trial, the case will be scheduled for a hearing in court. This is sometimes called the docket. Both the defendant and the plaintiff must decide and agree upon a trial with or without a jury. If both parties agree on a jury trial, a panel of jurors must be selected. This process consists of careful examination to eliminate those that are biased, related to a party in the case, or fascinated by the trial's result. The remaining jurors may also be questioned by the attorneys.

The trial begins. Both attorneys make their opening statements to the court. They then attempt to prove their case by presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. Closing arguments are then made by each of the attorneys summarizing the case. The jurors must then assemble to...