Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

A trial in which a judge makes the decision can take place, but it is also possible to request a jury trial in which a jury of peers will be selected to make the final decision. Jury trials typically have additional fees associated with them. When a trial date is set, you should receive

notice of the time, day and location of the trial. You can also call the clerk of the court and request the trial date. Here is a brief synopsis of the civil trial procedure:

Your attorney

should keep you updated on important events.

• Opening statements are given by the plaintiff’s attorney (the person who filed the case). • The defense is allowed to provide their opening statement. • The plaintiff’s attorney will present witnesses, which will be cross-examined by the defense. • After your side has presented all of its witnesses, the defense will present its witnesses, going through the same procedures of direct and cross- examination. • After testimony, each side presents closing arguments. • The judge makes a decision or gives the jury instructions for their deliberations. The judge may also not make a decision immediately, but choose to make a decision at a later date and send out a letter with the decision included.


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