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The Pretrial and Trial Phase

15 January, 2016 - 09:29


  1. Understand how judges can push parties into pretrial settlement.
  2. Explain the meaning and use of directed verdicts.
  3. Distinguish a directed verdict from a judgment n.o.v. (“notwithstanding the verdict”).

After considerable discovery, one of the parties may believe that there is no triable issue of law or fact for the court to consider and may file a motion with the court for summary judgment. Unless it is very clear, the judge will deny a summary judgment motion, because that ends the case at the trial level; it is a “final order” in the case that tells the plaintiff “no” and leaves no room to bring another lawsuit against the defendant for that particular set of facts (res judicata). If the plaintiff successfully appeals a summary judgment motion, the case will come back to the trial court.

Prior to the trial, the judge may also convene the parties in an effort to investigate the possibilities of settlement. Usually, the judge will explore the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case with the attorneys. The parties may decide that it is more prudent or efficient to settle than to risk going to trial.