The Details that Need to Be Addressed before Trial
In the earlier blogs in this series, we looked first at the details of how a lawsuit originates, and then at the discovery process, where the parties gather, evaluate and protect evidence to support their claims. We’re not quite ready to go to trial, though—there are other things that need to be done first.
Dispositive and Evidentiary Motions
Because dockets are always full and courts don’t want to waste trial time on unnecessary matters, it’s common practice in the American civil justice system to resolve as much as possible before bringing in a jury.
As we indicated in an earlier blog, our civil justice system adheres to the concept of “open discovery,” where all parties have equal access to all evidence relevant to the case. Accordingly, once discovery is complete, one or more parties may allege that the other party has not produced sufficient evidence for the matter to go forward. That can take a few different forms:
- Motion to dismiss—Typically filed by a defendant, this request to the court contends that the party seeking redress has not produced evidence of even a “colorable” claim and asks that the court throw out the entire lawsuit
- Motion for summary judgment—This motion is commonly filed by the party seeking compensation, alleging that the other party has not provided evidence of an acceptable defense. It typically asks for damages
- Partial motion for summary judgment or to dismiss—This motion seeks to limit the scope of a potential trial by ruling in advance on certain claims or by dismissing them
The rules governing admissibility or exclusion of evidence at trial are somewhat different that those applied during the discovery process. For example, a witness at a deposition may provide testimony that would be excluded at trial, but can be beneficial for obtaining other admissible evidence. Because the court does not want the jury exposed to inadmissible evidence, it’s common to ask the court to rule in advance of trial whether certain types of evidence may be introduced. If they are prohibited and a party introduces them anyway, there can be sanctions, including contempt proceedings and the potential for a mistrial.
Contact the Cintron Firm
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or (201) 535-0323 to set up an appointment.