Trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information as evidence in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or some other authority authorized by law to find a fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. The parties to a civil trial are called the plaintiff and the defendant.
During a civil trial, the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant make opening statements to the jury to specify the central issues of the case, and outline the plan to prove the matters of fact during the course of the trial. The plaintiff’s case is presented first: witnesses are called, questioned and cross-examined by the attorney for the defendant.
After the presentation of the case, the defense attorney will call and question his or her witnesses, who can then be cross-examined by the plaintiff’s attorney.
Once the witnesses have given their testimony and been examined, and all evidence has been offered and explained, the attorneys for each side make closing arguments. In the closing arguments, both attorneys will present their interpretation of the case facts and the meaning of the evidence in the best way to impact their client.
Following closing argument, the judge will then instruct the jury on what matters of law there may be. The jury retires to convene for private deliberation on the outcome of the factual case. After considering the jury’s decision, the judge will give the verdict as the jury has directed. If the judge disagrees with the jury’s verdict or the level of damages that the jury has awarded, the judge has the right to enter a verdict seemed fit.
A civil jury trial is only mandated when there are disputes as to matters of fact. When cases can be adjudicated based strictly on matters of law, the party concerned can request permission to make a motion to the court to either dismiss the case or to request a summary judgment that can be issued immediately by a sitting judge.