Litigation Lawyers in Cambridge
"Civil procedure" refers to the wide variety of rules that govern the process of civil litigation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It does not deal with the substantive rights that the litigation system is meant to protect, just the process by which it protects them.
Like all laws, the rules of civil procedure in Cambridge, Massachusetts reflect certain values that society, through its elected representatives, wants to promote. 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.
Cambridge, Massachusetts's civil procedure rules can get pretty complicated, however. They govern every aspect of a civil action, from the filing of the complaint, to discovery, and all the way through trial and appeals.
Major Cambridge, Massachusetts Civil Procedure Issues
Complaint: The first, and perhaps most important, part of filing a lawsuit in Cambridge, Massachusetts is the complaint. The complaint is filed with the court in Cambridge, 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). Usually, but not always, the end of the complaint will contain a "prayer for relief." The prayer for relief is simply a statement of what the plaintiff is asking the court to do to remedy the harm that the defendant allegedly caused.
Answer: Once the complaint is filed, the ball is in the defendant's court, so to speak. In the answer, the defendant has an opportunity to respond to all of the factual allegations made by the plaintiff, usually by denying them. The defendant might also raise affirmative defenses, which could prevent the defendant from being held liable. For example, if the defendant is accused of battery, and he did, in fact, batter the plaintiff, he might admit to that fact, but claim that the plaintiff was the aggressor, and he acted purely in self-defense. If he can prove that he acted in self-defense, he likely will not be held liable.
Discovery: Once the complaint and answer have been filed in a Cambridge, Massachusetts court, the next major civil procedure issue comes up. Discovery is the process in which both sides of the lawsuit are required to disclose required evidence to one another. The lawyers for each side can submit written questions, which the other party is required to answer under oath, unless the information is privileged. Each side can also request any relevant documents, physical evidence, and can conduct depositions of witnesses and parties to the lawsuit.
Trial: it's actually very uncommon for lawsuits to go trial in Cambridge, Massachusetts, because the rules of civil procedure in Cambridge, and nearly everywhere else, encourage speedy resolution of legal disputes, before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. This is largely accomplished by judges dismissing cases that clearly have no merit, or the parties settling out of court. However, when neither of these things is possible, both sides of the lawsuit will have to hash it out in a trial, which can be the most stressful and expensive step in the process. It involves both sides of the case presenting their evidence and arguments to a jury and judge, and letting them decide the issues.
How Can a Cambridge, Massachusetts Lawyer Help?
If you're facing any significant legal issue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, you can be pretty much certain that you'll face at least a few procedural complications that can hold up the process.
The rules of civil procedure in Cambridge, Massachusetts are not always simple or intuitive. With that in mind, it's very important to have a good attorney on your side, to help you through the process.