Trial Procedure: A Brief Overview
A brief summary of trial procedure
We are often asked about trial procedures with questions such as: “Do I have to be there?” “Will it take all day?” “Will I have to testify?”
Yes, yes, and yes. Most trials last a minimum of 4 days. Some take longer.
The client is the star witness. The case is all about the client and his or her injuries. Presence at trial is mandatory, not optional. The client will testify, and credibility is crucial.
Juries are becoming more and more skeptical of claims. Any inconsistency of any kind will be played up by the defense to make the plaintiff appear to be less than honest.
Here is the typical non complicated case Jury trial lineup:
- Day 1: Jury selection, Preliminary Jury Instructions, Opening Statements, maybe one witness:
- Day 2: Witness examination and cross examination, including the Plaintiff and the Defendant.
- Day 3: Expert witness testimony, defense witnesses.
- Day 4: Closing arguments, jury instructions and deliberation.
For complicated cases such as medical malpractice, expert witness examination and cross examination can take several days.
Jury questions are allowed in Arizona. They often come as a surprise to the lawyers and sometimes show that what lawyers think are important facts are not at all important to jurors. Not all juror questions get answered.
Final jury instructions are read to the jury before they begin deliberations. Printed copies of the instructions are now allowed to go to the jury room with the jury for reference during deliberations. Final jury instructions are primarily statements of law and are submitted by both sides for the Judge to consider. Instructions are critical, and a verbatim record is made of objections to instructions given or not given. Giving, or not giving an instruction can be grounds for appeal.
The courtroom is an unfamiliar place to most clients. The lawyers and staff members of The Rockafellow Law Firm are here to guide you through this unfamiliar process.