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.
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