Chenoweth Law Group

An overview of civil cases

An Oregon resident who is faced with or considering civil litigation might wonder about the process. A civil case begins as an individual with a complaint files the appropriate paperwork with the court. This is followed by the serving of a copy of the complaint upon the defendant. The complaint provides a summary of the issue in question, describing the defendant's role in causing the injury or dispute in question. The complaint also requests that the court order relief in the case, which may take various forms, including monetary or legal declarations of rights.

Discovery is the effort of those involved in the case to obtain information about the case, and both parties must make information available. This includes copies of relevant documents and information about the identities of witnesses. This allows both sides to prepare adequately for a trial. Motions may be filed to seek rulings on various pieces of evidence or on the procedures to be used. Depositions may be used to obtain answers under oath about a case.

In many cases of civil litigation, the parties will be encouraged to seek resolution in their case rather than going to trial, an action that could be helpful due to the costly and time consuming nature of courtroom litigation. Alternative dispute resolution can take various forms, including arbitration or mediation. If a settlement cannot be reached, a civil trial may be scheduled. This may occur with a jury, but witnesses can waive the right to a jury trial and allow a judge to hear the case.

Both parties in a civil case may benefit from legal counsel during the process. With lawyers assisting, it may be possible to resolve the matter through a negotiated settlement rather than proceeding through the litigation process.

Source: United States Court , "Civil Cases", October 30, 2014

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