If your case does not settle, the next thing that happens is the case will be tried in front of a jury. The first part of a trial is to pick a jury. The court subpoenas a large number of citizens from the county where the trial is held. They will be a jury panel from which your jury will be picked from. The panel will be escorted into the court room and the judge will advise them of the process of selecting a jury and what their duties and obligations are if picked to be on the jury.
Next, the attorneys ask questions of the panel to decide who they want as jurors in the case. This is called Voir Dire examination. It means the prospective juror is sworn to say the truth when questioned to ascertain his competence to serve as a juror. The lawyer who has filed the suit on behalf of the injured party goes first and then the lawyer defending the case goes next in asking questions of the panel. After the lawyers and the court excuse some of the panel for various reasons, those jurors that remain will be sworn in as the jury to try the case.
Next, the attorneys will address the jury and give their Opening Statements. The Plaintiff’s lawyer goes first and then the defense speaks next. The statements are the attorneys versions of the facts and what they believe they will prove to the jury to show that their client should prevail after all of the testimony has been presented to the jury.
Next the Plaintiff’s attorney will call the various witnesses he wants to testify on behalf of his client. After the direct examination of the Plaintiff’ lawyer, the defense lawyer will cross examine the witness. Keep in mind that the Plaintiff always goes first because he has brought the action and he must prove his claim. The defense defends against the claim to show the claim has not been proven. After all of the plaintiff’s witnesses have called and examined, the plaintiff rests his case and then the defense presents all of their witnesses and then the Plaintiff cross examines the defendants witnesses. Once all of the witnesses have testified, the defense rests its case.
Next, the attorneys give their closing statements to the jury as to what they believe the testimony has proved and why they feel the jury should decide in their clients favor. Again, the Plaintiff goes first and then the defense goes next. However, the Plaintiff gets to argue again. This is called Rebuttal.
After the final arguments are completed, the Judge will give the jury the instructions of the court to guide them in their deliberations in deciding the facts of the case. The Judge is responsible for deciding the law that governs the case and the jury’s responsibility is to decide the facts of the case.
After the instructions are given, the jury goes into a separate room to decide the case. They will take with them all of the various exhibits that have been placed in evidence. They will remain secluded until they have reached a verdict based on the law they were given by the court and the sworn testimony of the witnesses. The jury will then return to the court room and render its verdict.