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Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
Module # 2 Civil Trial
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Module # 2 Civil Trial


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  • 1. Module # 2 Lecture Structure of a Civil Trial
  • 2. Parts of a Civil Trial
    • Commencement of the law suit
    • Motions
    • Voir Dire
    • Opening Statements
    • Plaintiff’s Case in Chief
    • Defendant’s Case in Chief
  • 3. Parts of a Civil Trial (con’t)
    • Plaintiff’s Rebuttal
    • Jury Instructions
    • Closing Statements
    • Jury Deliberation
    • Jury Verdict
    • Judgment by the Court
  • 4.  
  • 5. Hypothetical Case
    • Paul sues Dan for a traffic accident
    • Alleges Dan ran through a STOP Sign.
    • Negligence Theory: Duty, Breach, Causation, Damages
  • 6. Commencement of the Law Suit
    • Pleadings: COMPLAINT w/ SUMMONS & ANSWER
    • COMPLAINT: In Federal and Washington: NOTICE pleading :
      • “ short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief .”
      • Defendant must be made aware of why they are being sued
    • Filed with the Court Clerk
    • Complaint must be “served” on defendant within 90 days of filing with the Clerk
  • 7. Commencement of the Law Suit
    • Defendant(s) files an ANSWER
    • Defendant will respond to the Complaint by:
      • Admitting
      • Denying
      • Denying for lack of knowledge
    • May raise “defenses” to the Complaint
    • Make a motion under CR 12(b)(6); see Motions Section.
      • CR = Court Rule
    • Defendant may also bring claims against the Plaintiff
    • Must respond within 60 days of receiving the Complaint
  • 8. Motions
    • CR 12(b)(6)
    • Summary Judgment
    • Motions in Limine (MIL)
  • 9. CR 12(b)(6)
    • “ [ F]ailure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted .”
    • The Moving party – the Defendant(s)– is stating that there is no reason for a complaint as nothing is wrong.
    • Successful only if “ it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts, consistent with the complaint, which would entitle the plaintiff to relief .“ 
    • Must be filed in the Answer or it is “waived.”
  • 10. Summary Judgment
    • A motion submitted by either party “ show[ing] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law .” CR 56(c).
    • The judge weighs all evidence in “ the light most favorable to the non-moving party .”
    • Filed by either Party after all the “Pleadings” have been served.
    • This a means to dispose of the case prior to trial.
  • 11. Motions in Limine
    • The purpose of a Motion in Limine is to either prevent evidence from being admitted at trial or ensuring evidence is admitted at trial.
    • I.e. preventing “Subsequent Remedial Measures” from being introduced at trial in a Negligence Claim. ER 407 (ER = Evidence Rule).
    • Argued before the Judge at a “Motions Hearing” prior to the beginning of the Trial.
  • 12. Voir Dire
    • Jury Selection
    • Counsel for each party asks questions of the venire (jury panel) to determine: Bias, Interest, Prejudice, or Inability to Serve as a Juror.
    • Called a “Challenge for Cause.”
    • Unlimited Challenges for Cause.
  • 13. Voir Dire
    • Peremptory Challenges
    • Excusing a juror from something other than cause.
    • Usually limited (i.e. 3) depending on the case.
    • Peremptory Challenges can not be based on Race or Gender. Batson v. Kentucky , 476 U.S. 79 (1986) (Race) and J. E. B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127 (1994) (Gender)
  • 14. Voir Dire
    • Batson Challenge; in re Peremptory Challenges
    • Litigant must be part of a “cognizable” racial/gender group.
    • Assertion made that opposing party is using peremptory challenges in a discriminatory manner.
      • Must establish a “ prima facie case .” Evidence sufficient to prove more likely than not that a party is acting in a discriminatory manner.
    • Opposing party has opportunity to provide a “race/gender neutral” reason.
    • Judge makes determination on the record as to whether challenge was made on neutral factors.
  • 15. Opening Statements
    • Plaintiff goes first
    • Followed by the Defense
    • Opening statements are not “argument.” Cannot talk about law only facts of the case.
    • Parties will tell the jury what evidence is “likely” to be presented.
    • Establishes a Party’s “Case Theory.”
  • 16. Plaintiff’s Case-in-Chief
    • Calling of witnesses
    • Admission of Evidence
    • Direct Examination
      • Plaintiff may ask only “open-ended questions.”
    • Cross-examination
      • Defense may ask “leading questions.”
    • Plaintiff may re-direct
  • 17. Plaintiff’s Case-in-Chief
    • Plaintiff will rest once all witnesses/evidence has been admitted.
    • Either Party of Both may then move for Summary Judgment
    • Judge may Order or Deny a motion for Summary Judgment.
    • If Ordered the case is over and the moving party wins.
    • Usually, Summary Judgments motions are Denied during trial.
  • 18. Defendant’s Case-in-Chief
    • Proceeds in a similar manner as the Plaintiff’s Case-in-Chief.
    • Defendant asks Opened Ended questions on Direct Examination
    • Plaintiff asks leading questions on Cross Examination
    • Once Defendant rests, parties can again move for Summary Judgment.
  • 19. Plaintiff’s Rebuttal
    • At the end of the Defendant’s Case, the Plaintiff may introduce Rebuttal Evidence/Witnesses, challenging the Defendant’s case.
      • This is allowed because the Plaintiff has the “burden” of establishing their case; thus extra time to “make” their case.
    • Proceeds in the same manner as the Plaintiff’s Case-in-Chief.
    • Plaintiff then rests.
  • 20. Jury Instructions
    • Parties submit sample Jury Instructions to the Judge on how the Jury should be instructed.
    • Instructions involve such things as the relevant law and the burden of proof.
    • Judge determines which Instructions to use and them Instructs the jury.
  • 21. Closing Statements
    • Parties argue the facts of the case in relation to the Jury instructions to make their case.
    • Plaintiff goes first.
    • Defense responds
    • Plaintiff give a rebuttal closing.
    • After instructions the Jury is dismissed to deliberate.
  • 22. Jury Deliberations
    • Jury considers only the facts established at trial
    • Analyzes those facts against law provided in the Instructions.
    • Depending on the jurisdiction a Verdict need not be “Unanimous.” Can be 10-2 or in some jurisdictions 9-3.
    • If jury finds the Defendant “Liable” the “Damages” are awarded, based on the Defendant’s fault.
  • 23. Judgment
    • Once the Jury has rendered its Verdict, the Judge will review it. Pass Judgment.
    • Judges rarely over-turn a Jury’s Verdict.
    • In a Civil Case, if the Plaintiff wins, Damages are awarded.
    • Losing party has a right to appeal.
  • 24. Review
    • The Trial System is the backbone of the American Justice System and this Course
    • Trials are set up to ensure fairness to all parties
    • All 12 parts of a Trial are important
  • 25. Review
    • Pre-Trial: Filing of the Complaint and Motions Practice
      • In reality most cases are settled prior to trial through a Negotiated Settlement.
      • This is the MOST IMPORTANT part of any trial, because this is where the Parties can ensure problematic evidence is not admitted
    • Trial: Voir Dire, Opening, Cases in Chief, Jury Instructions, Closing, Jury Deliberation, and Verdict.
      • Challenges: for CAUSE and PEREMPTORY
      • Case Theory: Frames the case from a Party’s perspective
      • Case-in-Chief: Witnesses & Evidence
      • Closing: ties facts admitted at trial to relevant law
      • Verdict: Jury’s Decision