What Are The Steps Involved In A Texas Civil Court Process?
Civil courts work to provide fair resolutions to both civil and family disputes between private citizens, businesses, government institutions, or other parties.
Here are the ten steps involved in Texas civil lawsuits.
Step One: Research
Look up what kind of legal case you have and which court you should file in. A civil attorney can help you understand what your case will involve and where best to file.
Step Two: File
To begin your lawsuit, you’ll fill out a petition and give your completed form to the clerk of the court for filing. Once you file, you’ll be known as the plaintiff in the case, while the other party will be known as the respondent or the defendant.
Step Three: Give Legal Notice
When you’re suing a person or business, you’re legally required to tell them you’ve filed a lawsuit against them. You can give them legal notice by asking the court clerk to issue citation or arrange a process server. The other party may file a response, or counter-claim, to your lawsuit with the court clerk.
Step Four: Gather Information For Discovery
Discovery helps you get important information from the other party. Each party can ask the other to respond to written questions or submit to a physical or mental exam. They can also request to look at documents or demand a deposition to question witnesses under oath and have their answers recorded.
Step Five: Answer Discovery
You must answer discovery within a certain timeframe set by the court or the rules for civil procedure. Your answers should be complete and factual to the best of your knowledge and the information available to you.
Step Six: File Any Motions And Requests
You can ask the court for things you need before trial through filing motions and requests. You’re permitted to request a jury (if your case allows) or ask the judge to postpone your hearing, change your pleading, let you join a lawsuit that has already begun, end your case before going to trial if the respondent hasn’t filed a pleading, or dismiss the case.
Step Seven: Attempt To Resolve The Case Before Trial
Parties can try to settle their case by working out an agreement and resolving their issue before it goes to trial. In some cases, the judge can grant a summary judgment and decide the case before trial. If the respondent fails to respond to the case or appear in court for trial, the judge can issue a default judgement to the plaintiff.
Step Eight: Present Evidence At Trial
Once the case has gone to trial and both sides have had the opportunity to present evidence, a judge or a jury will decide the case. The judge will announce the decision in a written order called a judgment, which is effective immediately.
Step Nine: Appeal The Judgment
If you’re unhappy with the judgment, you have the right to appeal within a strict timeframe (beginning the moment the judge signs the written order) by filing a notice of appeal with the trial court clerk. If granted an appeal, an appellate court will review the trial court’s initial decision.
If an error affected the outcome of the trial, you could ask the judge to grant a new trial and set aside the current judgment. You have 30 days to file a motion for a new trial with the trial court clerk.
Step Ten: Enforce The Judgment
Even though they’re signed by the judge, some written orders have to be enforced through legal steps. Judgments for money can be enforced through writs of execution or judgment liens. In a writ of execution, a peace officer can levy the judgment debtor’s nonexempt property, which will then be auctioned to pay off the judgment. A judgment lien attaches to the debtor’s property and is filed with the county where they own land. That means they’ll have to pay the lien if they want to sell or transfer that real property.
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