Trials and litigation are an important part of the everyday operation of the United States justice and legal systems. Trials are an event in which two parties, a plaintiff and a defendant, appear in a courthouse to dispute information with evidence in front of a jury, a judge, and the public. Not all trials are open to the public but a good majority of them are open to the public. Trials can last anywhere from one day to over a year at a time. Litigation is the process of carrying on a legal contest by judicial process.
There are two forms of trials; bench trials and jury trials. A bench trial is when the trial is presided over by a judge and typically end in a quick manner. Once the judge rules in favor of one party, it more often than not forces the other party to offer a settlement. A settlement is when the two parties reach an agreement about the dispute and resolve the claim in question. A jury trial is a trial that is held before a group of community members that have been chosen for that particular trial.
Jury selection for a trial can take anywhere from a couple of days to a handful of weeks. Attorneys from both sides of the case will ask each juror a set of questions they have prepared for the jury selection and the judge for the case will also preside over the jury selection process. Jurors know they have to appear for jury duty because they will receive notice of their appearance in the mail. If someone does not appear for jury selection they can be fined and even sent to jail. People are eligible to not serve jury duty, for instance, a student. If someone can prove that they are a full-time student in high school or college, then they do not have to appear for jury duty.
The types of trials vary depending on the type of crime that is involved. There are criminal trials, civil trials, administrative hearing and trial and labor trials. A criminal trial originates when the government accuses a person of committing a crime. All criminals in the United States have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. The government is attempting to deprive the accused of life, liberty and property by accusing them of a crime. In a civil trial, a trial is held for minor disputes between two private parties. For instance, a civil trial would include a woman suing her ex-husband for spousal support or child support because he is not paying.
Administrative hearings are not normally considered trials even though they contain many aspects of trials. Labor trials are trials that an employee brings against their employer for breaking the laws and regulations set forth by the government regarding labor.
Litigation usually occurs following the filing of a lawsuit. A lawsuit is a motion brought against a company or individual seeking legal or equitable remedies. In lawsuits, the person that files the suit is the plaintiff and the person that is named in the suit is the defendant. They are the same two parties involved in civil and criminal trials.