How Does a Civil Lawsuit Work?
Civil lawsuits emerge out of disagreements between people, business, and other entities like the government. Generally speaking, civil lawsuits follow four significant steps; pleadings, discovery, trial, and a possible appeal. Keep in mind that not all lawsuits will go to trial.
To capture each party’s side, every lawsuit begins with pleadings. Litigation will begin once the plaintiff files a complaint with the court. The complaint will then be normally delivered to the defendant. Within the complaint, the document will explain the plaintiff’s reason for taking legal action. The defendant will then have a deadline to answer the complaint and provide their side of the story.
The longest part of a civil lawsuit is the discovery. Discovery begins as soon as the lawsuit is filed and will continue until right before the trial. During discovery, the parties will gather facts and issues about the case by asking the opposing parties and third parties.
Information is also gathered by interrogatories (formal written questions)m requesting documents, and by conducting depositions. Dispositions are often used during trial to show inconsistencies or credibility of the witness. A claim or defense often requires support from witnesses to either support an argument or explain technical information.
If the case makes it to trial, each party will present evidence in front of a jury and/or judge that supports their claim or defense. Before the trail starts, each party will provide the judge with a “brief” that outlines both the arguments and evidence that will be used in the trial. During the actual trial, each party will present an opening statement and the present their evidence such as calling a witness or introducing a document. After one party calls a witness, the opposing side is allowed to cross-examined the witness.
When both parties have presented their evidence, each party will provide closing statements. The court will then as the jury to deliberate until they reach a decision or verdict.
If a party is not happy with the result, they may appeal. When a party appeals, the case will go to higher court to review. The parties will present their arguments in briefs which will then be sent to the appellate court. The purpose of the appellate court is to determine if the law was correctly applied in the trial court. The court typically only reviews the case for legal error and unless under unusual circumstances will not override the jury’s decision or verdict. If the appellate courts find that was an error, the appellate court can either reverse the verdict or order the court to begin a new trial.
Alternatives to Litigation
Alternatives to litigation help save time and money. However, they don’t always result in a complete resolution of the dispute. Three alternatives to litigation include settlement, mediation, and arbitration.
A settlement is a cost-effective alternative to trial. A settlement can be discussed at any time by any party.
Mediation is when an unbiased third party member helps the parties agree on settlements. The mediator will meet with both parties and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case. The mediator will point out risks and talk about how the risks may affect their goals.
Lastly, attribution is when the parties selected an unbiased third party to resolve the dispute for the, Both the parties will presents evidence and the arbitrator will decide which party wins. The process is more casual than a formal trial and is usually done privately.
A common assertion is that if you reside in the United States illegally, you do not have constitutional rights. Although this is a common assertion, it could not be farther from the truth. Besides a few exceptions including, voting, running for president or Congress, the United States Constitutions guarantees many of the same civil right and liberties to both citizens and non-citizens.
It is estimated that over 11 million people are living in the United States illegally. The majority of these undocumented immigrants are unaware of what legal protections they are guaranteed. In an effort to spread awareness both attorneys and immigration rights advocates have hosted “Know Your Rights” workshops.
These workshops occur all around the country and help undocumented immigrants know their rights as well as what they can do when they are confronted with immigration enforcement.
The legal protections of illegal immigrants can be found in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Within this clause, it states that anyone is assured the same protection of the law, this includes both U.S. citizens and any person living within the jurisdiction.
This means as long as you live in the United States, whether you are documented or not, you have the right to be protected by the laws as well as have fair treatment in the judicial system.
The 1973 High Court’s decision of Almeida-Sanchez v. United States helps to enforce this principle. The decision stated that all non-citizens, despite their legal status, are protected by criminally related amendments of the Constitution. This includes legal protection for search and seizure, trial by jury, self-incrimination, and freedom of expression.
Undocumented immigrants are also protected under the Fourth Amendment, which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless an undocumented immigrant gives consent or law enforcement have a warrant to search the house, they can deny entry to law enforcement.
Equal protection was expanded in 1982 due to the Plyler v. Doe decision. This case was a “landmark decision” that stated that public education could not be denied due to those who are illegal immigrants. The court decided that the Texas law violated the Equal Protection clause and therefore all children are entitled to public education.
These are just a few of the legal rights that undocumented immigrants possess. Besides a select few exceptions, undocumented citizens are entitled to many of the same rights as United States citizens.
Technology advances so quickly that the courts have little hope of keeping up. Cases involving new technologies take years to make their way to the high court. During that time period, lower courts are often bound by precedents related to already outmoded technologies. A sort of legal limbo occurs, where litigants, lawyers, and the public remain uncertain about the law.
Though law enforcement and prosecutors have been using cellphone evidence for two decades, the Supreme Court has yet to make a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless access to a defendant’s cellphone data. The question will finally be decided later this year, when the supreme court issues its ruling on Carpenter v. United States. The court’s ruling will decide whether Carpenter’s fourth amendment rights were violated when the FBI obtained his cellphone records without a warrant and used them as evidence against him.
The Carpenter Case
In April, 2011, Carpenter was arrested for robbery, along with three other men. One of the other suspects confessed and provided the FBI with the phone numbers of the other suspects, including Carpenter’s. The FBI applied for and received a magistrate’s order for Carpenter’s cellphone’s transactional records, which show his calls and the locations and times he made them. Based partially on this evidence, Carpenter was convicted of robbery.
He appealed, and the sixth circuit federal court affirmed his conviction. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in his case and, as of June 4th, 2018, he is awaiting the decision.
The case’s impact
The Carpenter case is widely expected to provide the definitive answer to whether law enforcement must obtain a warrant for cellphone data. In Carpenter’s case, he argues that the magistrate’s order was not enough to meet constitutional requirements. His lawyers believe that the fourth amendment, when it states citizens have the right to privacy in their personal effects, includes cellphone data.
Courts have a history of looking backwards for guidance in technology-related cases, which often results in the court basing its decision on an analogy. For example, a tablet could be compared to a notebook in terms of determining if the data on the tablet constituted protected data. The court now will struggle to determine how the framers of the constitution would view the seizure of Carpenter’s phone records.
Legal experts anxiously await the decision. Many courts, as seen from the Carpenter case, lean toward law-enforcement’s view that the constitution provides no protection for cellphone records. When the court rules, a definitive standard will apply across the U.S.
Abogado Aly Civil Law:
Civil Law consists a group of laws that govern disputes between individuals in such areas as contracts, property, and family law. Civil Law is anything that is not criminal or public law. There are breach of contract cases where one makes a deal, signs a contract and does not follow the contract obligations that were laid out. There are consumer rights cases where you are protected as a consumer from businesses trying to take advantage of you. Lastly, there are construction law cases with lien matters, landlord-tenant matters and more.
At the offices of Abogado Aly, each attorney has their own specialization; however, they meet everyday to ensure that each case is handled by a group of professionals with varying specializations so that all attorneys at this office can look at each case from multiple angles. Adriana Rodriguez’s specialization is in Civil Law, and the aim of this blog is to inform readers on Civil Law in the news today.
For more information about our office, check out AbogadoAly.com