Seven Tips to Prepare for Your Case in Civil Court
The ball is in your court. Your civil court, that is. Nearly 33,000 civil court cases were filed with the federal government in September 2021.
This number may suggest that a civil court case is easy. That isn’t necessarily the case. Even if you have a civil litigation lawyer on your side, you need to know what to do.
What should your first steps be to prepare for a case? How should you strengthen your case? How should you behave in court?
Answer these questions and you can win your case without breaking a sweat. Here are seven tips you should follow.
1. Read the Complaint
The plaintiff must file a complaint with a judge to initiate a civil court case. All types of civil cases require complaints, though defendants can file responses to the complaints. Whichever side you are on, you should reread the complaint and the responses to it.
2. Do Your Research
Your case must touch upon all of the items in the complaint. Be prepared to prove or refute each one in detail.
You can use any type of evidence to buttress your arguments. Witness testimony, financial documents, and medical cost projections are especially valuable.
3. Prepare Your Documents
You should have physical copies of all the documents you plan on using. Print them out and then store them inside folders and binders. Use dividers and labels so you can categorize everything.
Make sure you can put complicated terms in your own words. If you struggle to understand something in a document, hire an expert to explain it to you.
4. Talk to Witnesses
Witnesses can be fickle. A litigation lawyer can call a witness, expecting them to deliver testimony that will help them. But they may present evidence that helps the other side.
Your witness should have firsthand knowledge of the situation and training on what to say. Go over their remarks with them and help them practice answering questions. If you don’t have a civil attorney, hire one with experience in handling witnesses.
5. Assess Strengths and Weaknesses
Your case is not perfect. Once you’ve done some research, think about where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Base your arguments around your strengths and assess how you can fix your weaknesses. You may need to provide more evidence or explain things in clearer terms.
6. Arrive at the Court on Schedule
Figure out when and where your case will take place. Dress in formal attire and arrive at the courthouse on time. You can bring water to drink during the case, but you cannot bring food or work materials.
7. Be Respectful
You will spend most of your time speaking to a judge. They will ask you questions so they can reach an outcome about the case.
Ask the judge questions if you don’t understand what they are saying. But don’t get flustered or raise your voice at anything they say. Address the judge as “Your Honor” and be deferential as you talk to them.
Win Your Civil Court Case
A civil court case can be tricky. You want to start with the complaint. Do your research so you can argue for your interpretation of it.
Prepare documents and talk to witnesses so you develop a strong case. Once you have the outline for your case, assess where you can make improvements.
Arrive at the court so you are not late. Do not use informal or confusing language in front of the judge. Respect their questions and their final decision.
You can go in-depth on civil court strategy. Read more civil court guides by following our coverage.