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Trial Proceedings

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 judge or jury will decide the case.  The judge or jury “weigh” 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.

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

To meet the burden of proof, present more quality evidence to the court than the other party. The judge 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. 

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What Happens in Court