When a party has no more possible appeals, it usually pays up voluntarily. If not voluntarily, then the losing party’s assets can be seized or its wages or other income garnished to satisfy the judgment. If the final judgment is an injunction, failure to follow its dictates can lead to a contempt citation, with a fine or jail time imposed.
The process of conducting a civil trial has many aspects, starting with pleadings and continuing with motions, discovery, more motions, pretrial conferences, and finally the trial itself. At all stages, the rules of civil procedure attempt to give both sides plenty of notice, opportunity to be heard, discovery of relevant information, cross-examination, and the preservation of procedural objections for purposes of appeal. All of these rules and procedures are intended to provide each side with a fair trial.
1. Mrs. Robinson has a key witness on auto safety that the judge believes is not qualified as an expert. The judge examines the witness while the jury is in the jury room and disqualifies him from testifying. The jury does not get to hear this witness. Her attorney objects. She loses her case. What argument would you expect Mrs. Robinson’s attorney to make in an appeal?
2. Why don’t appellate courts need a witness box for witnesses to give testimony under oath?
3. A trial judge in Nevada is wondering whether to enforce a surrogate motherhood contract. Penelope Barr, of Reno, Nevada, has contracted with Reuben and Tina Goldberg to bear the in vitro fertilized egg of Mrs. Goldberg. After carrying the child for nine months, Penelope gives birth, but she is reluctant to give up the child, even though she was paid $20,000 at the start of the contract and will earn an additional $20,000 on handing over the baby to the Goldbergs. (Barr was an especially good candidate for surrogate motherhood: she had borne two perfect children and at age 28 drinks no wine, does not smoke or use drugs of any kind, practices yoga, and maintains a largely vegetarian diet with just enough meat to meet the needs of the fetus within.)
The Goldbergs have asked the judge for an order compelling Penelope to give up the baby, who was five days old when the lawsuit was filed. The baby is now a month old as the judge looks in vain for guidance from any Nevada statute, federal statute, or any prior case in Nevada that addressed the issue of surrogate motherhood. He does find several well-reasoned cases, one from New Jersey, one from Michigan, and one from Oregon. Are any of these “precedent” that he must follow? May he adopt the reasoning of any of these courts, if he should find that reasoning persuasive?