DepositionDepositions are formal interviews taken by lawyers of witnesses and parties. These question-and-answer interviews are conducted under oath and are many times videotaped. The depositions may be used in front of the jury.
MediationMediation is a structured settlement discussion. Mediation is court ordered in almost all civil cases. In mediation, a third-party lawyer who is unfamiliar with the case and neutral as to sides conducts the mediation process. During the mediation, lawyers for both sides will make general opening statements. The rest of the mediation day will be spent in separate rooms, with the mediator taking offers and demands between the parties. Mediation is a useful process, and many cases settle during mediation.
Petition or ComplaintA petition is filed in State Court. A complaint is filed in Federal Court. Both of these documents are what is traditionally thought of as the "lawsuit." The petition or complaint is filed to initiate the lawsuit and make initial allegations against the defendant. As evidence develops, the document is changed to match the evidence in the case.
Trial SettingThis is the day that the Court chooses to set your case for trial. Unfortunately, your case is not the only case which will be set on a specific day. Generally, the Court will set ten to fifteen cases for trial on the same day. The Court will then take the oldest case first. Many times you will not get "reached" at the initial trial setting, and the Court will then reset your case for a new trial date. This is a standard procedure, but unfortunately it requires the litigants to be prepared for trial on several different occasions.
Written DiscoveryLegal rules allow the sides to exchange "written discovery." This is generally in the form of interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admissions. Interrogatories are simply written questions that the opposite side must answer under oath. Requests for production require the other side to produce documents and things, such as vehicles or other evidence involved in the case. Requests for admissions require the opposite side to admit or deny certain facts so that issues may be narrowed for trial.