Litigation Lawyers in Middleborough
"Civil procedure" refers to the wide variety of rules that regulate the process of civil litigation in Middleborough, 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 Middleborough, Massachusetts reflect specific values that society, through its elected representatives, wants to advocate. 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.
Middleborough, Massachusetts's civil procedure rules can get pretty confusing, however. They regulate every aspect of a civil action, from the filing of the complaint, to discovery, and all the way through trial and appeals.
Major Middleborough, Massachusetts Civil Procedure Issues
Complaint: When somebody believes that they have suffered a legal wrong in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and decide to file a lawsuit, the initial document that they file with the court is typically the complaint. The complaint is very significant, because it can frame the factual and legal issues, and set the tone, for the rest of the process. The complaint normally contains every factual allegation against the defendant that forms the basis of the plaintiff's lawsuit. It also contains a prayer for relief, in which the plaintiff lays out his or her desired remedies, if the court finds the defendant liable.
Answer: Once the complaint is filed, the ball is in the defendant's court, so to speak. In the answer, the defendant has an chance to respond to all of the factual allegations made by the plaintiff, typically by denying them. The defendant might also raise affirmative defenses, which could keep the defendant from being held liable. For instance, 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 establish that he acted in self-defense, he likely will not be held liable.
Discovery: Once the initial documents have been filed by both parties in the proper Middleborough, Massachusetts court, the discovery process begins. "Discovery" refers to a wide range of disclosures that each side of the lawsuit must make to the other. Basically, everyone involved in the lawsuit has to disclose every piece of information in their possession (with some exceptions) that's relevant to the factual issues in the case. There are a few different methods that are employed in this procedure: each side can send written questions to the other, which must be answered under oath. They can additionally request documents, as well as access to physical evidence. They can also conduct depositions (in-person Q&A sessions) of parties and witnesses.
Trial: In Middleborough, Massachusetts, it's truly very rare for civil lawsuits to go to trial. Of all the lawsuits that are filed, only a tiny minority make it to trial. The majority are either dismissed, or settled. This is by design: the civil procedure rules in Middleborough are particularly meant to encourage early resolution of legal disputes, without resorting to a costly and time-consuming trial. Nonetheless, when a case does go to trial, it is for the purpose of a jury resolving all of the factual disputes between the parties. Each side will present evidence acquired through the discovery process, call witnesses, and make arguments on behalf of their position. Once the jury reaches a verdict (a finding of fact), the judge enters a judgment on the verdict.
How Can a Middleborough, Massachusetts Lawyer Help?
If you're suing anyone, or are being sued, in Middleborough, Massachusetts, dealing with issues of civil procedure is going to be a fact of life for quite some time.
Because the rules of civil procedure in Middleborough, Massachusetts are intricate, it's smart to have the counsel of an efficient attorney through every step of the process.