Trial Process (Part 2) – Your Case At Trial

Derek Reams, a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with McCue, Reams and Associates recently completed a four part video series on some of the finer parts of the civil trial process here in the state of Florida. The following are some excerpts from Part 2 Your Case at Trial.

After the jury was sworn in, the trial of the case then begins. The first step in most cases is what’s called the opening statements. This is where the attorneys for the perspective parties give you a guide of what the evidence that’s going to be presented during the course of the trial will show. Oftentimes, things like demonstrative aides which could include; enlargements of property damage pictures, enlargements of certain medical information that might be relevant to the case are shown to the jury for the very first time. These guides, used in opening statements are of course designed to try to inform the jury of what the next several days or weeks during the trial itself will show. This is the first time the jury will hear certain details about the case which weren’t explained to them during the jury selection process.

Once the opening statements have been given by the attorneys for the respective parties, the next step in the trial process is called the examination phase. During the examination phase, the attorneys are allowed to present evidence which could include; witness testimony, demonstrative testimony; which are things such as property damage pictures, medical records, medical bills, wage loss information, things of that sort.

During the examination phase, each attorney is entitled to ask questions of the witnesses. The plaintiff’s side, which is the side that actually filed a lawsuit, goes first. Once the plaintiff presents a witness, this is called direct examination. Once the direct examination has been completed, the defense attorney will then be entitled to cross examine the witness on anything the witness has just testified to.

At the conclusion of the direct examination and cross examination portion, jurors here in Florida are actually entitled to ask the witness questions as well. The process for this is very simple. The jury writes down the question on a notepad, hands the piece of paper to the bailiff, the bailiff will then take the question to the judge and at that point, the judge will read the question to the witness and the witness will answer the question from there.

During the examination phase, you will hear from witnesses such as medical doctors, accident report witnesses who may have observed the accident, police officers and of course our client who is the one with most knowledge about all of the details of the case.

During the examination process the jury is entitled to look at evidence that has been entered during the case itself. Things like property damage pictures often times are very important during this stage of the trial. We’ve all heard the phrase, “a picture’s worth a thousand words”, but most of us have also heard, “a picture doesn’t tell the whole story”. In every automobile accident case for instance, property damage pictures are very important for one side of that case versus the other. But, as I said, sometimes those property damage pictures don’t tell the whole story. So, other information like medical records, doctors opinions about what the injuries are, prior medical records are equally as important for the jury to see during this examination process.

If you would like to view this podcast or any of the other free podcasts we have produced regarding personal injury law and your rights you can visit us on iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/guide-for-personal-injury/id495693563

The next segment of Attorney Reams’ discussion of the trial process centers on preparing for testimony in your case.

We have a new smart phone app that is free to download from the App Store for iPhones or at Google Play for android phones. Download it and have it ready. Should the need arise give us a call. Remember, we can help.

Trial Process (Part 1 ) – Jury Selection

Derek Reams, a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with McCue, Reams and Associates recently completed a four part video series on some of the finer parts of the civil trial process here in the state of Florida. The following are some excerpts from Part 1 – Jury Selection.
First step in the trial process is what’s called the jury selection, more formally known as “voir dire”.
In this step of the trial process, the judge and the attorneys for all of the parties are entitled to ask perspective jurors various questions. Things like, have they been in a prior car accident, made a claim for personal injuries or know someone that has been injured in a motor vehicle accident of any kind. This information is important to us and to you because we want the best jury to get the best possible result for you during the trial of your case.
During this process, the judge generally starts by asking the jury as a group, some basic background qualifications such as, are they Florida residents, residents of the particular county that we’re trying the case in, have they been involved in any formal legal proceedings such as bankruptcy, foreclosure for other personal injury cases things like that. This could affect the jury’s ability to be fair and impartial which is why the judge asked these questions.
Once the judge has finished asking questions, the questioning is turned over to the attorneys for the respective parties. The plaintiff which is the side that has filed the lawsuit asks questions next. Once the plaintiff is done, the questioning is then turned over to the defense attorney.
In a personal injury case, a variety of questions are asked by both the plaintiff’s attorney and the defense attorney. Certain information such as, has the perspective juror ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident, a medical malpractice claim, have any of those claims been filed against them or most importantly what are their feelings and biases about being involved in those types of claims in the past.
As attorneys, we of course are looking for the prospective jurors who would be most fair and impartial in any given case. Obviously, the defense attorney is looking for the same type of juror, so these questions are extremely important once we’re selecting the jury during the trial of any case.
Other information we may be looking for during the jury selection process are things like, do they have any personal conflicts such as work, family, doctor’s appointments that may prevent them from sitting during the course of your trial. Most personal injury cases last an average of three days, some good last several weeks. So, it’s important to know which jurors are going to be able to listen and provide a fair and impartial decision at the conclusion of your trial.
Once each side has finished asking the prospective jurors questions, we then had a meeting with the judge to select the panel for that particular case. Here in Florida, the jury consists of six people and usually one or two alternate jurors. This process includes what are called “peremptory challenges” and “challenges for cause” that the judge is asked to make decisions on.
For cause challenges are simply challenges where a juror has said something or made a comment during the questioning process they clearly shows he or she cannot be fair and impartial in this particular case. Generally, each side has three peremptory challenges and those challenges can be used for any reason except to strike a potential juror for race, religion, or gender.
Once the for cause challenges are made and the peremptory challenges have been used, the judge then seats these people as the jury panel for your trial and that’s when the trial itself begins.
If you would like to view this podcast or any of the other free podcasts we have produced regarding personal injury law and your rights you can visit us on iTunes.
The next segment of Attorney Reams’ discussion of the trial process centers on your case at trial.
We have a new smart phone app that is free to download from the App Store for iPhones or at Google Play for android phones. Download it and have it ready. Should the need arise give us a call. Remember, we can help.