How to File a Court Case

court case

A court case is an ongoing dispute between two or more parties who agree to have a third party decide the matter. The decision can include a judgment (enforceable or not) or an order (not enforceable). Court cases include civil, family and criminal matters. Disputes can involve money, property, or rights. Civil cases are filed by individuals or businesses who believe that they have been wronged in some way. They can be simple or complex and may last one day or several months. A judge or jury decides the outcome. In some countries a magistrate or arbitrator is used instead of a judge.

You must prove your case to the judge by submitting convincing documentary evidence and reliable witnesses. Your evidence can include contracts, receipts, photographs and emails that support your facts. The judge will rule on any objections to your evidence. Witnesses must testify under oath. You are responsible for getting your witnesses to attend the hearing.

Organize your documents. It is hard for the judge to follow a messy or disorganized presentation of your facts. If you have a lot of evidence put it in a binder or folder with a table of contents and tabbed dividers. Keep copies of all your documents and only give the original to the judge if she asks for it.

When you get to the courtroom look for a docket list on the wall or on the door of the courtroom. It will have a number next to it which corresponds to your case. When your number is called tell the bailiff or the clerk assistant which case you are in. The court clerk or the bailiff will also give you a number to stand behind and wait to be called.

Make sure you have all the paperwork required for your type of case. Each county has different requirements. Often you can find the rules online. If you do not have the required paperwork, the court may dismiss your case.

Be prepared for what the other side will say and do. Consider the worst that they might say about you. Decide if it is legally relevant and then prepare for how to respond.

The judge has heard hundreds or thousands of cases like yours, some worse than others. They are usually not happy about these cases and want to make things right. The judge does not know you and the other party but they do know the law and the evidence in your case. They will try to use that knowledge to resolve the conflict in your case.

If the judge finds that you are entitled to a judgment in your favor she will issue it. If the judge finds you are not entitled to a judgment in your favor, you have the option of appealing the decision. Once the appeal period is over you can take steps to enforce or collect the Judgment.

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