Steps in a Trial – How Pleadings Work

From: ABA

Ever wonder what really happens with a plea deal in the court systems?

Most trials never make it to a jury.

The following information from American Bar Association is helpful.

A lawsuit begins when the person bringing the suit files a complaint. This first step begins what is known as the pleadings stage of the suit. Pleadings are certain formal documents filed with the court that state the parties’ basic positions. Common pre-trial pleadings include:

  • Complaint (or petition or bill). Probably the most important pleading in a civil case, since by setting out the plaintiff’s version of the facts and specifying the damages, it frames the issues of the case. It includes various counts – that is, distinct statements of the plaintiff’s cause of action – highlighting the factual and legal basis of the suit.
  • Answer. This statement by the defendant usually explains why the plaintiff should not prevail. It may also offer additional facts, or plead an excuse.
  • Reply. Any party in the case may have to file a reply, which is an answer to new allegations raised in pleadings.

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