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Next, the plaintiff is permitted to introduce evidence such as exhibits and witness testimony.

The defendant is permitted to cross-examine all of the plaintiff’s witnesses. After the plaintiff rests, the defendant is also permitted to introduce evidence such as exhibits and witness testimony. The plaintiff is permitted to cross-examine all of the defendant’s witnesses. After the defendant rests, the plaintiff may be permitted to introduce additional evidence to rebut the defendant’s evidence.

Each side may have multiple opportunities to introduce additional evidence if the evidence rebuts the evidence the other party most recently introduced. Once the evidence has been introduced, each side receives an opportunity to present its closing arguments.

The plaintiff presents its closing argument first, followed by the defendant, and followed an additional time by the plaintiff, (the plaintiff goes first and last because the plaintiff is the party with the burden of proving its allegations). After closing arguments, the judge reads the jury a set of instructions. Those instructions provide the law the jury must follow and then directs the jury on the manner in which it is required to apply the law to the facts and ultimately reach a verdict.

Obviously, in a non-jury trial, those instructions, while still important, are simply agreed to by the attorneys and the judge and the judge then follows those guidelines when making his or her determination of what factually occurred in the case.

In Los Angeles, and throughout California, jury trials are not provided for free for litigants and a jury trial is only permitted if requested prior to the first Case Management Conference. While a judge may use his or her discretion to permit one side to request a jury trial after that Case Management Conference, the right to that jury is not automatic at that point.

Further, the side requesting a jury must, at the time of the request, pay $150 in Los Angeles as a jury fee. If this fee is not paid, the request is not considered valid. Prior to this rule, a party, as little as 25 days prior to trial, could simply request a jury trial by form and was not required to pay any fees.

Not all cases follow these same jury trial rules. Criminal jury trials are presumed, cost nothing, and no request is required (in fact, a waiver of a jury must be taken to have a court trial). Family law, restraining orders, and probate matters all are not cases that are eligible for jury trials, unlike regular civil litigation matters.

Unlawful detainer matters can be heard before a jury in California. A civil jury trial (or any other type of jury trial) should never be confused with a grand jury in California, which only has the authority to indict criminal defendants, not convict or render any final judgments.

Most courts, like the Los Angeles Superior Court, make available to the public online. In other cases, via the local form.

Appeals

The losing side in a trial may appeal. However, appeals only consider whether the judge made the correct legal decisions. Appeals do not consider whether the judge made any incorrect decisions about the facts, and appeals do not consider the jury’s decision about the facts. An appellate court can deny an appeal, grant a new appeal reversing a part or all of a case, or can order a new trial.

Important Business Litigation Issues

Often, the best way to avoid many business-related disputes is to have a properly executed agreement. However, even a perfect contract that leaves no room for interpretation can be breached. When that occurs, a party will rarely be fully compensated without legal help. While the civil litigation process does not officially begin until a lawsuit is filed, that daunting step can sometimes be avoided if the parties are proactive and work to resolve their dispute.

Often, involving attorneys can save money, especially if the attorneys place their Clients’ interests first. When a lawsuit is filed or is imminent, arbitration and mediation can be viable alternatives to the costly process of litigation and trial. Arbitration is more similar to the court process and involves a decision from an arbitrator. This decision can be binding or non-binding (the parties must agree if arbitration is to be binding). Mediation is simply a negotiation with an impartial referee or mediator who is hired by both parties to bring them closer to a resolution/settlement.

Many businesses and individuals see the litigation process as intimidating because of the rising costs of hiring qualified attorneys by the hour. Some inexperienced attorneys will accept cases for much less money than experienced business litigation attorneys.

However, these new lawyers can end up charging as much or more than an experienced civil litigator because they will be forced to charge their clients to learn new concepts. Despite the high cost of civil litigation, there are a lot of knowledgeable and highly experienced business litigation attorneys who do everything possible to provide excellent representation at a reasonable price.

Their goal is not to charge fees but instead is to keep costs down and assist clients. This policy can dramatically benefit their clients. Some civil litigation attorneys also accept fees on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney only receives a fee if the client obtains money in a settlement. However, these types of fee agreements are generally only offered in personal injury cases, (such as a car accident, etc.).

Our firm regularly handles all types of business and civil litigation, including contractual disputes, real estate matters, collection litigation, insurance disputes, shareholder and partner disputes, and civil appeals. Having an experienced and qualified civil litigation attorney advocating for you or your corporation can make a significant difference in the outcome of a case.

Having an experienced attorney can also reduce the fees clients pay (less experienced litigators regularly bill clients for time spent researching an issue or procedure that is new to them, where an attorney in practice for many years has often handled similar matters in the past and does not need to spend time familiarizing himself or herself with every new issue).

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