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A Federal Civil Case Involves a Legal Dispute Between Two or More Parties

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A federal civil case involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. To begin a civil lawsuit in federal court, the plaintiff files a complaint with the court and serves a copy of the complaint on the defendant. The complaint describes the plaintiff's injury, explains how the defendant caused the injury, and asks the court to order relief. A plaintiff may seek money to compensate for the injury, or may ask the court to order the defendant to stop the conduct that is causing the har
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  A federal civil case involves a legal dispute between two or more parties. To begin a civil lawsuit in federal court, the plaintiff files a complaint with the court and serves a copy of the complaint on the defendant. The complaint describes the plaintiff's injury, explains how the defendant caused the injury, and asks the court to order relief. A plaintiff may seek money to compensate for the injury, or may ask the court to order the defendant to stop the conduct that is causing the harm. The court may also order other types of relief, such as a declaration of the legal rights of the plaintiff in a particular situation.To prepare a case for trial, the litigants may conduct discovery. n discovery, the litigants must  provide information to each other about the case, such as the identity of witnesses and copies of any documents related to the case. The purpose of discovery is to prepare for trial by re!uiring the litigants to assemble their evidence and prepare to call witnesses. ach side also may file re!uests, or motions, with the court seeking rulings on the discovery of evidence, or on the  procedures to be followed at trial.#ne common method of discovery is the deposition. n a deposition, a witness is re!uired to answer under oath !uestions about the case asked by the lawyers in the presence of a court reporter. The court reporter is a person specially trained to record all testimony and produce a word$for$word account called a transcript. To avoid the expense and delay of having a trial, judges encourage the litigants to try to reach an agreement resolving their dispute. n particular, the courts encourage the use of mediation, arbitration, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, or A%&, designed to produce an early resolution of a dispute without the need for trial or other court proceedings. As a result, litigants often decide to resolve a civil lawsuit with an agreement known as a settlement. f a case is not settled, the court will schedule a trial. n a wide variety of civil cases, either side is entitled under the onstitution to re!uest a jury trial. f the parties waive their right to a jury, then the case will be heard by a judge without a jury.At a trial, witnesses testify under the supervision of a judge. (y applying rules of evidence, the  judge determines which information may be presented in the courtroom. To ensure that witnesses speak from their own knowledge and do not change their story based on what they hear another witness say, witnesses are kept out of the courtroom until it is time for them to testify.A court reporter keeps a record of the trial proceedings.A deputy clerk of court also keeps a record of each person who testifies and marks for the record any documents, photographs, or other items introduced into evidence.As the !uestioning of a witness proceeds, the opposing attorney may object to a !uestion if it invites the witness to say something that is not based on the witness's personal knowledge, is unfairly prejudicial, or is irrelevant to the case. The judge rules on the objection, generally by ruling that it is either sustained or overruled. f the objection is sustained, the witness is not re!uired to answer the !uestion, and the attorney must move on to his next !uestion. The court reporter records the objections so that a court of appeals can review the arguments later if necessary.At the conclusion of the evidence, each side gives a closing argument. n a jury trial, the judge will explain the law that is relevant to the case and the decisions the jury needs to make. The jury generally is asked to determine whether the defendant is responsible for harming the plaintiff in some way, and then to determine the amount of damages that the defendant will be re!uired to  pay. f the case is being tried before a judge without a jury, known as a bench trial, the judge will decide these issues. n a civil case the plaintiff must convince the jury by a preponderance of the evidence )i.e., that it is more likely than not* that the defendant is responsible for the harm the plaintiff has suffered.The judicial process in a criminal case differs from a civil case in several important ways. At the  beginning of a federal criminal case, the principal actors are the +.. attorney )the prosecutor* and the grand jury. The +.. attorney represents the +nited tates in most court proceedings, including all criminal prosecutions. The grand jury reviews evidence presented by the +.. -  attorney and decides whether there is sufficient evidence to re!uire a defendant to stand trial.After a person is arrested, a pretrial services or probation officer of the court immediately interviews the defendant and conducts an investigation of the defendant's background. The information obtained by the pretrial services or probation office will be used to help a judge decide whether to release the defendant into the community before trial, and whether to impose conditions of release.At an initial appearance, a judge advises the defendant of the charges filed, considers whether the defendant should be held in jail until trial, and determines whether there is probable cause to  believe that an offense has been committed and the defendant has committed it. %efendants who are unable to afford counsel are advised of their right to a court$appointed attorney. The court may appoint either a federal public defender or a private attorney who has agreed to accept such appointments from the court. n either type of appointment, the attorney will be paid by the court from funds appropriated by ongress. %efendants released into the community before trial may  be re!uired to obey certain restrictions, such as home confinement or drug testing, and to make  periodic reports to a pretrial services officer to ensure appearance at trial.The defendant enters a plea to the charges brought by the +.. attorney at a hearing known as an arraignment. ost defendants / more than 012 / plead guilty rather than go to trial. f a defendant pleads guilty in return for the government agreeing to drop certain charges or to recommend a lenient sentence, the agreement often is called a plea bargain. f the defendant  pleads guilty, the judge may impose a sentence at that time, but more commonly will schedule a hearing to determine the sentence at a later date. n most felony cases the judge waits for the results of a presentence report, prepared by the court's probation office, before imposing sentence. f the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will proceed to schedule a trial.riminal cases include a limited amount of pretrial discovery proceedings similar to those in civil cases, with substantial restrictions to protect the identity of government informants and to  prevent intimidation of witnesses. The attorneys also may file motions, which are re!uests for rulings by the court before the trial. 3or example, defense attorneys often file a motion to suppress evidence, which asks the court to exclude from the trial evidence that the defendant  believes was obtained by the government in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights.n a criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the government. %efendants do not have to prove their innocence. nstead, the government must provide evidence to convince the jury of the defendant's guilt. The standard of proof in a criminal trial is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the evidence must be so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.f a defendant is found not guilty, the defendant is released and the government may not appeal.  4or can the person be charged again with the same crime in a federal court. The onstitution  prohibits double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same offense.f the verdict is guilty, the judge determines the defendant's sentence according to special federal sentencing guidelines issued by the +nited tates entencing ommission. The court's probation office prepares a report for the court that applies the sentencing guidelines to the individual defendant and the crimes for which he or she has been found guilty. %uring sentencing, the court may consider not only the evidence produced at trial, but all relevant information that may be  provided by the pretrial services officer, the +.. attorney, and the defense attorney. n unusual circumstances, the court may depart from the sentence calculated according to the sentencing guidelines.A sentence may include time in prison, a fine to be paid to the government, and restitution to be  paid to crime victims. The court's probation officers assist the court in enforcing any conditions 5  that are imposed as part of a criminal sentence. The supervision of offenders also may involve services such as substance abuse testing and treatment programs, job counseling, and alternative detention options. erhaps the most important way individual  citizens become involved in the federal judicial process is by serving as jurors. There are two types of juries serving distinct functions in the federal trial courts: trial juries (also known as petit juries), and grand juries. Trial Jury A civil trial jury is typically made up of 6 to -5 persons. n a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfill a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or  penalty should be. A criminal trial jury is usually made up of -5 members. riminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence usually is set by a judge. 7erdicts in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous, although the parties in a civil case may agree to a non$unanimous verdict. A jury's deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom. Grand Jury A grand jury, which normally consists of -6 to 58 members, has a more speciali9ed function. The +nited tates attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence to the grand jury for them to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. f the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. :rand jury proceedings are not open for public observation.  Jury Selection Process ;otential jurors are chosen from a jury pool generated by random selection of citi9ens' names from lists of registered voters, or combined lists of voters and people with drivers licenses, in the  judicial district. The potential jurors complete !uestionnaires to help determine whether they are !ualified to serve on a jury. After reviewing the !uestionnaires, the court randomly selects individuals to be summoned to appear for jury duty. These selection methods help ensure that  jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national srcin, age or political affiliation.(eing summoned for jury service does not guarantee that an individual actually will serve on a  jury. <hen a jury is needed for a trial, the group of !ualified jurors is taken to the courtroom where the trial will take place. The judge and the attorneys then ask the potential jurors !uestions to determine their suitability to serve on the jury, a process called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to exclude from the jury people who may not be able to decide the case fairly. embers of the panel who know any person involved in the case, who have information about the case, or who may have strong prejudices about the people or issues involved in the case, typically will be excused by the judge. The attorneys also may exclude a certain number of jurors without giving a reason.tirea in l.romana8
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