What Is Civil Rights Litigation?

What is civil rights litigation? Understand what the pretrial proceedings mean to your lawsuit and how it can impact how it progresses.

Once civil litigation begins, there is much involved before a case gets to trial. Once you realize all that is involved, your patience for results might be strengthened.

What the goal of litigation is initially is to pursue a lawsuit and settle out of court. If both parties can reach a settlement, there is money saved from not enduring a trial. But since there is no way to know if a case will go to trial or settle, the process involved in litigation must proceed as if there will be a trial. All pretrial preparation must be made prior to the trial date.

The initial process in litigation involves interviewing the client pursuing action through legal means. The facts are obtained and an agreement is reached on what the lawsuit will be. Following this will be a preliminary investigation which involves searching for items like police reports and medical records.

As litigation proceeds, an applicable file is made which must maintain confidentiality, provide safety for legal documents and ensure files can be retrieved quickly and easily. Subfiles can also be created to provide ease and flow to the pretrial process.

Next, the plaintiff, the person who is initiating the lawsuit, will have a complaint filed with the appropriate court. The complaint states the claims being made against the defendant and specifies which court the dispute will be resolved in.

Once the defendant answers the complaint, the two legal documents become the pleadings, which inform each party of the claims of each other and specifies the disputed issues. Once this is done there are other documents which will be filed with the court to continue in civil litigation.



Motions for judgment on the pleadings can be filed once the pleadings are closed, with no further disputing. This will happen if the law needs to be applied to undisputed facts and the case need not proceed to trial. If any facts are in dispute the motion will not be granted.

A motion for summary judgment may also be filed. This motion requests that the court enter a judgment without going to trial. Evidence provided may be the basis for the motion being granted as long as no facts are in dispute.

Another motion which may apply is the motion to dismiss. This is when the defendant asks for the case to be dismissed for a specific reason, which could include improper service or lack of personal jurisdiction.

The motion to strike can also be filed by a defendant in asking the court to strike or delete certain paragraphs of the complaint. When these motions are filed they can help narrow down the issue involved and expedite litigation.

A motion to make more definite and certain is one filed by the defendant asking the plaintiff to clarify the basis of the plaintiff's cause of action. This will occur if the complaint seems to ambiguous.

And finally, a motion to compel discovery is one which can be filed by either party which asks the court to compel the other party to comply with a discovery request. Discovery is a formal investigation which obtains information from each party and from witnesses prior to trial.

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