Pleadings and Pretrial Motions
Pleading is a formal written statement filed with a court by parties in a civil action. They are formal statements served by each party to a lawsuit to one another, which contains their respective positions in the matter, such as allegations, claims, defenses or denials. Pleadings contain facts that are material to the party’s claim or defense, and not the means of proving those facts. It defines the issues, and narrow them down to the essentials. It may be a complaint, a demurrer, or an answer. A complaint is the first pleading filed by a plaintiff which initiates a lawsuit. It sets forth the relevant allegations of fact that give rise to the legal causes of action along with a prayer for relief. A demurrer is the pleading filed by a defendant; it challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. An answer is a pleading through which the defendant admits or denies the specific allegations set forth in a complaint. It constitutes a general appearance by a defendant.
In a criminal case, after the preliminary hearing and before the case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the defense team appear before a criminal court and make pre trial motions. Pretrial motions are specific requests for favorable orders from the court on particular issues. It may be arguments which set boundaries for the trial, arguments such as certain evidence should be kept out of trial or that certain persons must or cannot testify may be raised in a pre trial motion.