There are several aspects of trial practice that you may have questions about.
Robert Greene of GREENE & TISCHLER, P.A.
is a board certified civil trial attorney and has tried in excess of 100 civil or criminal jury trials.
Most cases settle prior to trial, but sometimes a jury trial is required to reach a final resolution. In Florida, a civil jury trial consists of six (6) jurors (except eminent domain cases). The verdict must be unanimous.
A jury trial has several steps from start to finish. The trial process is as follows: (the plaintiff always goes first).
Also known as jury selection, the attorneys will ask potential jurors a series of questions to decide if they will be selected to sit on the jury. A juror can be excused for cause or by using a pre-emptory challenge.
Each attorney will have the opportunity to give the jury an opening statement. At this time, the attorneys will tell the jury what they expect the evidence to be in the case.
Witnesses will be called by each side and each attorney will have the chance to ask questions of the witnesses. If an objection is made the judge will decide if the question or answer is allowable. Exhibits, such as photographs, documents and other tangible evidence are introduced at this time.
After each side presents their case, they will give closing statements to the jury. Unlike opening statements, the attorneys are allowed to argue the case and try to convince the jurors to rule in their favor. At the end of closing arguments, the judge will instruct the jury as to the law they are required to follow.
After the closing arguments and jury instructions, the jury will return to a private room and reach a verdict. In a civil case, juries are asked to rule on issues, such as negligence, comparative negligence, causation and damages, both past and future. Their verdict must be unanimous.
In a personal injury case, the usual damages a jury can award are past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages and past and future pain and suffering. The jury must find that the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury in order to award damages for pain and suffering.
Contrary to what people may think, most trial results do not result in an appeal. There are several reasons for that. One, unless there was a fundamental error at trial, it is unlikely a civil case will be reversed on appeal.
Also, before an appeal can proceed, the losing party must post a bond and pay interest on the amount of the verdict. The party filing the appeal may end paying not only their attorney, but also attorney fees for the other party.
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