No one actually wants to go to court. It’s something we do because we have to, like paying taxes. And just like paying taxes, if you bumble forward without actually knowing what you’re doing, a court date can blow up in your face.
And in a civil trial, that’s not something you want to happen. If you’re the one being charged, that means you’ll end up being held accountable for a wrong you weren’t responsible for. If you’re the one bringing up the suit, that means the person you’re trying to hold accountable gets off free – and maybe even countersues
Either way, that’s not the outcome you want.
To avoid that, you’ll need to prepare. The bad news is that it’s not going to be easy. Even if you hire a lawyer, there’s a ton of legwork I’d advise you to go through,
Step One: Know The Details Of The Suit
First thing’s first – why is this case being brought before the court? What is the wronged party saying the other party did or owes? Was a contract violated? Did a wrongful injury occur, or did someone skimp on the bill for a service rendered?
Whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant, you need to understand precisely why you’re going to court.
Step Two: Get Your Story Straight
In addition to knowing the details of the case, it’s also critical that you know the details of your own story. If you’re the wronged party, what exactly did the defendant do to you? How has your life been negatively impacted as a result of the plaintiff’s decisions? How will this suit rectify things and help you get back to normal?
If you’re the defendant, what isn’t the plaintiff telling the court? What details of their story don’t add up, and why should anyone take your side over the plaintiff’s? While your story will likely evolve slightly as you uncover evidence and bring in more witnesses, the core beats will always remain the same (assuming, of course, that you’re being truthful).
Step Three: Do Your Research
With your story in mind, it’s time to start digging. What might the other party say to discredit your arguments? What evidence can you provide that your side is the correct one? Anything you can find to help your case is fair game – documentation, witnesses, video evidence. Get creative and think big.
Ideally, you don’t want to leave a single lead unpursued. But if you’re truly strapped for time, I’d advise only going after the evidence you know will help you if the case goes to trial. The thing is, you’re gathering this evidence in the hopes that you’ll never have to use it in court.
Instead, this evidence exists so that you can convince the other party to either settle or back down. The more ironclad your case, the likelier it is that you’ll be able to gain a favorable settlement.
Step Four: Understand The Law
Now for the really hard part – you’re going to need to do some legal research. What laws are applicable to your situation? Is there any legal precedent for the court finding in your favor – any previous cases that have been tried with similarities to your own?
Assuming you don’t already have a lawyer, I’d suggest visiting a legal library and asking the clerks there for assistance. Set aside some time when you do – you’re going to be reading for a while.
Step Five: Take Care Of Yourself
You know the ins and outs of the suit. You’ve got an ironclad story, complete with a written statement, witnesses, and documentation. You’ve done your research on the law, and you’ve a reasonable idea what the other party is going to say about you (and about the case).
And in spite of your best efforts, the case is going to court. What’s there left to do?
Take care of yourself.
Like it or not, people are going to judge us based on first impressions. And although judges generally have a keen mind and decades of legal training under their belts, they’re human beings. If you show up to court looking like you spent the night sleeping on a park bench, they’re going to form a preconception about you.
With that in mind, here are a few things you should do in the weeks leading up to your trial
- Sleep. One good night’s rest isn’t going to do it. You need at least a solid week or more of good sleep if you’re really going to knock things out of the park – and not just because you’ll look better if you don’t have bloodshot eyes and bags under your eyes. You’ll also be much sharper than you would otherwise.
- Eat Well. Again, this is about keeping a healthy body and mind. Eat properly before your trial, and you’ll find yourself much less stressed – I can all but guarantee it.
- Dress well. What sort of message do you want to send to the court? Professionalism, right? Dress to convey it. A well-tailored, fitted suit is a great option here.
When In Doubt, Hire A Lawyer
Navigating the legal complexities of a civil trial can feel overwhelming – especially if you’re unfamiliar with civil law. R.B. Bormaster & Associates can help. Bring us on, and you’ll have a team of lawyers and support staff who’ve an intimate familiarity with civil law. We’ll do what we can to avoid even having to take the case to trial, because we know it’s better for both parties if a court date can be avoided.
Not only that, we pride ourselves on taking our clients’ cases seriously, and we do not charge for consultations. We’re interested in helping you with your case, not charging you through the nose for our services. Contact us today – we’d be honored to help.