Litigation: What It Is and How to Prepare in Arizona

Lawyer With Document And Pen

Litigation is a way to solve legal disputes through the court system that involves a trial. There are two basic types of cases that are heard in court. Criminal cases involve prosecuting defendants for alleged crimes. By contrast, civil litigation involves one private party suing another for damages or other relief stemming from a legal dispute.

Commercial litigation is a specific type of civil litigation that pertains to commercial disputes. Unlike some other forms of litigation, commercial litigation can involve complex issues with a considerable amount of money at stake. At the same time, parties often have an incentive to resolve their commercial disputes in a mutually beneficial manner out of court to preserve their business relationship.

Bringing a Civil Lawsuit

There are several procedural steps that need to be taken before a trial. In particular:

– The plaintiff must file a complaint with the clerk of the court. The complaint lays out in detail every allegation that the plaintiff is making and the legal foundation for those allegations. Note that under Arizona law, the plaintiff must state whether the case is eligible for arbitration. In addition, the plaintiff must deliver a copy of the complaint and a court summons to the defendant. This is called “service of process.”

– The defendant must file a written answer to the complaint, in which the defendant must admit or deny every allegation made. A defendant has 20 days after being served with the complaint to file an answer. If a defendant does not file an answer within the allotted time, the court may enter a default judgment for the plaintiff.

– The parties then exchange relevant information about the dispute through what is known as the discovery process. During discovery, each side seeks to obtain the evidence required to make their case at trial. There are several types of discovery, including oral and written depositions, written questions in the form of interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for production of documents. The discovery process is important because it helps the parties gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments, and the other side’s arguments, based on the facts that come to light. During or after discovery, one or both sides might ask the court for a ruling in their favor without a full trial, called summary judgment, if they think they will win on all or some of their claims even if the fact-finder believes everything the other side says.  

– Also during discovery, the parties usually discuss settling the case out of court. This option can save everyone involved time and money. If settlement negotiations fail, the case goes to trial.

Preparing for Trial

To prepare for trial:

Read the Complaint Carefully

Read the complaint no matter which side you are on because it contains the allegations you need to prove if you are the plaintiff or defend against if you are the defendant. Identify all the evidence required to make your case. Also consider how circumstances may have changed since the complaint was filed, and how this may affect the case.

Collect and Study All Written Documents Involving the Parties

Written communications and other documents involving the parties – especially a contract if one is in dispute – may be central to the case. You must be familiar with them, including any letters, emails, or other written correspondence between you and the opposing party or parties that could impact how a judge or jury sees the facts.  Having written evidence is especially helpful in cases because they are looked on as more reliable than someone’s testimony.

Go Over the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Case With Your Attorney

It is hard to evaluate the strength of your position objectively. Your attorney knows the law and will provide an objective opinion. He or she can also help brainstorm ways to bolster your position and undermine the opposing one, including pointing out any inconsistencies in your version of the facts and identifying evidence that would help prove your case. In addition, your attorney can advise you whether to try to settle the case before trial.

Help Your Attorney Identify Witnesses

As the client, you may be aware of potential witnesses or have information that could be valuable. Discuss these with your attorney to determine if they would be helpful. People with first-hand knowledge of an incident or other important facts are especially important. If possible, avoid witnesses who might have a reason to lie, as the opposing attorney is sure to bring this up on cross-examination. 

Contact Counxel Legal Firm

If you would like to talk to an attorney about an issue pertaining to a litigation matter, contact us at (480) 744-6621 or at request@counxel.com. Don’t forget to check out the good things that others are saying about the services they received from Timothy Coons on Google.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Counxel Legal Firm. Please contact request@counxel.com or (480) 744-6621 to request specific information for your situation.

*Conveniently located off the 101 Freeway and the US 60 in the middle of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Queen Creek!

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