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What Happens in Court

The person who is starting the claim is called the plaintiff. The person being sued is known as the defendant. Both plaintiff and the defendant will have the opportunity to speak to the court and present their case.

Most trials proceed like this:

  1. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first.
  2. After the plaintiff has presented evidence, the defendant may ask the plaintiff questions.  The defendant may also ask questions to any witnesses the plaintiff calls.
  3. The defendant may then present evidence.
  4. After the defendant has presented evidence, the plaintiff may ask questions of the defendant and the defendant’s witness(es).
  5. The magistrate decides the case.  The magistrate “weighs” the evidence presented by both parties. If the weight of the evidence presented by the plaintiff(s) is greater than the weight of the defendant(s) evidence, the plaintiff will win. If not, the case might be dismissed or the defendant might win.

To meet the burden of proof, present more quality evidence to the court than the other party. The magistrate can ask questions to the plaintiff, defendant or witnesses at any time.  It is important during questioning to remain polite. Do not interrupt or argue.  Learn more about your rights and responsibilities in court.

NOTE: A person representing a corporation or a limited liability company without a lawyer may not ask questions of any witnesses.

Once all documents and all testimony have been submitted, the magistrate will state that the case is “submitted”. The magistrate will provide a decision orally in court or you will receive a written decision in the mail. For more information, see Judgments.

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