Litigation Lawyers in Bellingham
"Civil procedure" refers to the wide variety of rules that regulate the process of civil litigation in Bellingham, Massachusetts. It does not deal with the substantive rights that the litigation system is meant to safeguard, just the process by which it protects them.
Like all laws, the rules of civil procedure in Bellingham, Massachusetts reflect particular values that society, through its elected representatives, wants to encourage. So, the rules of civil procedure have the stated goal of ensuring that the justice system is fair, cost effective, efficient, and accessible to everyone who has a legitimate legal grievance.
Bellingham, Massachusetts's civil procedure rules can get pretty difficult, however. They control every aspect of a civil action, from the filing of the complaint, to discovery, and all the way through trial and appeals.
Major Bellingham, Massachusetts Civil Procedure Issues
Complaint: The initial, and perhaps most significant, part of filing a lawsuit in Bellingham, Massachusetts is the complaint. The complaint is filed with the court in Bellingham, Massachusetts that's responsible for handling civil trials. It lists everything that the plaintiff (the person who is suing) alleges against the defendant (the person the plaintiff is suing). Normally, but not always, the end of the complaint will contain a "prayer for relief." The prayer for relief is just a statement of what the plaintiff is asking the court to do to remedy the harm that the defendant allegedly caused.
Answer: The answer is normally the first document that the defendant files, and it is meant to serve as a direct response to the plaintiff's complaint. It normally denies all of the plaintiff's major allegations. It might also lay out affirmative defenses. An "affirmative defense" is a set of reasons that negate the defendant's liability even if their conduct would ordinarily be unlawful. For example, in a lawsuit for battery, a defendant might admit that he struck the plaintiff, but claim that he acted in self-defense. If that can be shown, it would negate, or mitigate, his liability to the plaintiff.
Discovery: The civil procedure rules in Bellingham, Massachusetts were written with the purpose of, among other things, preventing surprises. For that reason, everyone immersed in a lawsuit goes into trial with a pretty good idea of what evidence the other side has. This is largely because of the discovery procedure, during which the attorneys for both sides are obligated to disclose (with some exemptions) all information relevant to the trial which they have in their possession. These disclosures come in several forms, such as simply sending boxes of documents, deposing witnesses, or submitting written questions to the other side, which the recipient is obligated to answer under oath.
Trial: It is really quite rare for civil lawsuits in Bellingham, Massachusetts to go to trial, since the rules of civil procedure in Bellingham highly encourage early resolution to cases by dismissal of lawsuits that have no merit, and negotiated settlement of those that do. Nonetheless, when neither of those things happen, the case goes to trial. This is when a judge and jury determine the questions of law and fact, respectively, raised in the case. The jury then issues a verdict, based on the evidence presented to them.
How Can a Bellingham, Massachusetts Lawyer Help?
If you're facing a lawsuit in Bellingham, Massachusetts whether as the plaintiff or defendant, you will have to interact with your jurisdiction's civil procedure rules.
It should go without saying that you should have a Bellingham, Massachusetts attorney on hand to deal with any civil procedure issues that you're almost sure to face, if you're immersed in a lawsuit.