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Litigation Road Map


Each individual case varies in complexity and circumstances. However, the following is a general outline of how a typical case may proceed and also some guidance and reminders for the client. Before starting, we do want to remind you that this document is general information only and you should consult with your assigned Attorney for fact specific advice before making decisions regarding your legal matters.


A. Informal Settlement.

  1. Correspondence. In most circumstances, attempts will be made to settle your case prior to litigation through correspondence and/or telephone calls with the opposing parties. Litigation is more costly than informal methods of settlement. Unless the circumstances suggest filing a complaint immediately, we will usually attempt informal methods of settlement until it appears that those methods are not achieving any results. You should be prepared to explain your goals to your Attorney early on so that we can formulate a rough timetable and plan of action.
  2. Alternative Dispute Resolution. In some circumstances, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are available such as mediation or arbitration. These methods often provide a lower cost method of resolving legal disputes. Mediation (a.k.a. “settlement conference”) involves a neutral third party providing an objective evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. The procedure is not binding unless a settlement is reached. The mediator simply serves as a facilitator or “go between” for the parties in attempt to reach a settlement. The mediator will not make a decision regarding the case. If the mediator cannot assist the parties to reach a settlement, the parties will have to find another forum to resolve their disputes.
    Arbitration involves appointment of a neutral person or panel of persons to serve as judge and fact-finder. Arbitration is similar to a courtroom trial except that the setting is usually less formal and the rules of evidence and procedure are more relaxed. After the conclusion of an arbitration hearing, the arbitrator will issue a decision concerning the case. That decision may be either binding or non-binding depending upon the parties agreement. In some circumstances participation in arbitration may be mandatory.
    If you are interested in either of these procedures or would like to know more about possible alternatives, ask your Attorney.

B. Formal Litigation.

  1. The “Complaint.” Formal litigation begins when a lawsuit or “Complaint” is filed by a Plaintiff against a Defendant in the Court. The Plaintiff’s complaint controls what the case will be about. You should inform your Attorney of each and every claim you wish to make against a Defendant. If a claim is not made in the Complaint, it generally may not be brought later. If you are the Defendant, you should inform your Attorney of any defenses you may have to the claim and of any counterclaims you might have against the Plaintiff. If a Defendant’s claim against the Plaintiff arises from the same occurrence or series of transactions, the Defendant may be required to bring that claim in the same litigation.
  2. Service of Process. After filing with the Court, a complaint must be legally served on a Defendant. We must hire an independent process server licensed by the State to effect service. Usually, it takes between 3-10 days to have a Defendant served. However, in some circumstances it can be very difficult to locate and serve a Defendant which may cause lengthy delays. If you are a Defendant, you should advise your Attorney of the date on which you were served the papers and the manner in which you were served. You should also provide your Attorney with a copy of all papers which were served upon you.
  3. The “Answer.” After being served with the complaint, the Defendant has twenty days to file an answer to the complaint with the court. Typically, the Defendant’s Attorney will need some additional time to file an answer which will be granted if the request is reasonable. If the Defendant does not answer within the time allotted, the Plaintiff must file an application for Default with the Court. Following that, the Defendant will have an additional 15 days to answer the Complaint.
    In some circumstances, a Defendant may file a procedural motion before filing an Answer to the Complaint. Such a motion will delay the Defendant’s obligation to file an answer until after the Court rules on the motion. Generally, the formal discovery process does not begin until after the Defendant files an answer.

C. The Discovery Process

There are a number of different devices by which a party can obtain information from other parties and other persons. Your case will involve some or all of these procedures depending on the type and complexity of your circumstances. The discovery process can be time consuming and expensive. It will also require a great deal of time commitment from the parties, as well as the Attorneys. You should discuss with your Attorney a general plan for discovery in the case and the costs you wish to expend. Ideally, we will eventually obtain every bit of information we want from discovery. However, time and monetary constraints typically force us to prioritize the gathering of information.

The discovery process is often invasive to the privacy of both parties. Whether a Plaintiff or a Defendant, you may be required to provide information to another party which you would not otherwise provide. If a request for information is unnecessarily invasive of a party’s privacy or is unduly burdensome, the court may order that the party does not have to respond. In such a case, either the party not wanting to respond must request the court to issue a protective order or the party wanting the other side to respond will file a request for the court to compel a response after a one is refused.

If you feel that you should not have to respond or provide certain information, consult with your Attorney. However, you should keep in mind that if the information is more likely than not to either prove or disprove any element of your case to any degree, you will likely be required to respond. For example, a Plaintiff who claims that he/she has suffered a physical injury through the fault of the Defendant will be obligated to allow Defendant access to most or all of his/her medical records — including medical records from before the injury. Likewise, a Plaintiff who claims that he/she lost wages as a result of the injury will be obligated to provide the Defense with his/her financial records including tax returns for the previous three to five years. Similarly, a Defendant may be required to divulge confidential memos or business records which would not otherwise be publicly available. In addition, matters such as criminal convictions and routine conversations with others are discoverable information.

In order to assure expeditious litigation and avoid excess expenditures of fees and costs, we usually ask that you only consider avoiding disclosure in extreme cases - where you would be extremely uncomfortable divulging such information. It is also useful to keep in mind that if you unsuccessfully try to avoid disclosure, the court may require you to pay the other party’s Attorney’s fees and costs incurred in obtaining a court order compelling you to respond.

  1. Disclosure Statements. In Arizona, each side must file a “disclosure statement”. A disclosure statement is comprised of a detailed listing of that party’s case including a detailed description of the claim, names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses, and copies of any documents or things which the party possesses relevant to the litigation. Generally, information must be included in the disclosure statement or a supplement thereto to be used during a trial. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide your Attorney with everything that you have which helps prove your case. Keep in mind that no matter how relevant the evidence is, it may be precluded at a hearing and/or trial if it was not timely disclosed to the other side. We have had several instances where great evidence against the other side was not allowed at a proceeding because it had not been properly disclosed (i.e., the client had only brought it in the day before the hearing.)
    An initial disclosure statement is usually due six weeks after the Defendant files an answer. Therefore, as soon as you hire an Attorney you should begin preparing a list of the name, address and telephone number of each person who might be a witness or have information relevant to your case. We are also required to describe the knowledge which each witness has relevant to the case. You should search all of your files for documents and other evidence you might have relevant to the case and provide a copy to your Attorney. In addition, a detailed summary and time line of the events relating to your case are very helpful to your Attorney. And, if you are making a claim against another party for money, you should prepare an itemized list of the amounts you wish to claim along with an explanation of how you made your calculations. Disclosure statements can be supplemented with newly acquired information as litigation proceeds. If you acquire or learn of new information after we do our initial disclosure, you should promptly advise your Attorney of that fact.
    Reminder: You can greatly assist your Attorney by providing information in written form which can be easily placed in your file and reduce the risk of miscommunication
  2. Depositions. Depositions are usually the most effective way of obtaining information relevant to the case. However, depositions are also the most expensive and thus must be used wisely and effectively. A single deposition will often cost between $500 and $1,500.00 after Attorney’s fees and court reporter fees are paid. If the witness is not a party to the litigation it will also be necessary to have a subpoena served on that witness as well as to pay them a witness fee.
    A deposition involves examination of a party or a potential witness under oath. The testimony is transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript of the testimony is then available for future use. Depositions are used by litigants to find out what a witness is going to say about the case and how they will handle cross-examination by an opposing Attorney. In a deposition, each party to the case will be given an opportunity to ask questions of the witness. The court allows the parties a lot of leeway to ask questions so long as the question “is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.” Thus, for deposition purposes, a lot of questions will have to be answered that might not have to be answered at trial.
    The main parties to a case almost always have their deposition taken as well as any key witnesses. If a witness is friendly to our side and will cooperate in an informal interview, we may choose to avoid the expense of that witness’s deposition -- although the other side may wish to conduct it. But if that witness will be unavailable for trial, we may need to take his/her deposition to preserve the testimony. If you have any concerns about a witness not being available at the time of trial, you should advise your Attorney.
    Depositions usually last 3-5 hours. If you are the person being deposed, you should block at least 5 hours out of your schedule to make sure you have enough time. Occasionally, depositions last longer. The safest way is to plan the entire day to avoid any problems.
    Client role: Parties to litigation are almost always entitled to attend depositions. Advise your Attorney if you wish to attend a particular deposition. You can also serve as an additional set of ears in the deposition to make notes regarding follow up questions. If you are the person being deposed, you should plan on meeting or at least speaking with your Attorney in advance of your deposition for preparation. You should also thoroughly review your case to make sure the facts are fresh in your mind. One of the key measures of witness credibility is how well you recall the events -- particularly from the Plaintiff side. If another person is to be deposed, you can assist your Attorney by preparing a list of questions you would like asked of the witness ahead of time.
  3. Interrogatories. Interrogatories are a device by which a party can ask another party to respond in writing to questions under oath. Interrogatories are significantly cheaper to use than depositions. In some circumstances, they can be more effective than a deposition because the responding party is obligated to respond to the question if the information requested is within that party’s control. Thus, where a deposition witness may answer: “I do not know, I would have to look at my records,” the party responding to an interrogatory is obligated to look at his/her records and provide an answer. The down side of interrogatories is that the responding party has at least forty days to respond and can consult with their Attorney before responding thus often times resulting in evasive answers.
    Nevertheless, interrogatories are an important part of the discovery process -- particularly when used in conjunction with a deposition. As you prepare information for your Attorney, it is very helpful to write down questions you would like answered by the opposing party. Interrogatories are a useful tool to probe the other side’s case and prevent them from being evasive. Likewise, you should expect to receive interrogatories from the other side which you will have to answer. Your Attorney can help you with these, but he cannot answer them for you.
  4. Subpoena Duces Tecum / Request for Production. Often times, documents or other tangible evidence will be in possession of someone else and not readily obtainable without formal means. If the evidence in possession of a non-party we will have to use a “subpoena duces tecum” which is a legal command for someone to appear and produce records. With this, there is an expense involved because the court charges for issuance of a subpoena, you must pay to have it served and pay the witnesses for their costs in reproducing the documents.
    If the evidence sought is in possession of another party, it can be obtained by issuing a “request for production of documents.” This involves a formal written request to that party to produce the documents or category of documents identified. That party is then obligated to produce the documents unless they are protected by a privilege or it is unduly burdensome for that party to produce them.
    If you are aware of documents or other tangible evidence in possession of another party or person -- or even if you suspect it -- let your Attorney know so that a request can be made. As with all other forms of discovery, you may alsobe expected to respond to such requests as well.
  5. Requests for Admissions. If one party believes that the other party does not or cannot dispute the existence of a certain fact or set of facts, that party can formally request that the other party admit the truth of the fact which eliminates the necessity of proving that fact at trial. For example, if the Plaintiff believes that the Defendant cannot refute the fact that a certain set of documents are authentic medical records, the Plaintiff might ask the Defendant to admit that they are authentic. Then if the Defendant fails to admit that fact, and the Plaintiff ultimately proves their authenticity at trial, the Plaintiff may recover a sanction against the Defendant for failing to admit.
  6. Independent Medical Exams. Independent medical exams (“IME’s”) occur when the Plaintiff is making a claim that he/she has been injured through the fault of the Defendant. In this situation, the Defendant usually has the right to have its own physician examine the Plaintiff independently from any other physicians who may have treated Plaintiff. In this regard, it is not truly accurate to call these exams independent. There is nothing independent about them. You are examined by a professional witness which the Defendant or Defendant’s insurance carrier has paid to render a medical opinion. In our opinion, it is more accurate to call these Defense medical exams “DME’s”). DME’s almost always are requested in medical malpractice cases and are often requested in other personal injury cases as well.
  7. Expert Witnesses. Many cases will involve one or more expert witnesses for each side. This is particularly true in this case. In fact, I expect that at least three, not including medical experts, will be required. An expert witness is someone with some special skill, knowledge, training or experience which an ordinary person would not possess. Experts typically have no first-hand knowledge regarding the relevant events of the case but can offer their expertise to help the fact-finder(s) in understanding the case. However, in some instances, a party or ordinary witness may also qualify as an expert because of their knowledge. For example, a Plaintiff’s treating physician may have first-hand knowledge of the injuries but also possess expertise regarding those injuries. In some circumstances, such as a doctor who is a Defendant in a medical malpractice case, one of the parties may qualify as an expert witness.
    Hiring of an expert witness is usually quite expensive and must be done cautiously. In some cases, such as medical malpractice, it will be mandatory for the Plaintiff to hire an expert witness. Defendants, represented by insurance companies, often have an advantage over Plaintiffs in hiring expert witnesses because of their superior resources. One special consideration is that a party who wishes to take the deposition of another party’s expert must pay that expert’s fees for the deposition time. We have seen these charges as high as $2,500.00 per hour.
    You will be responsible for all expert witness fees. Therefore, it is imperative that you start planning ahead for when these fees will become due.

D. Motions and Other Pretrial Court Proceedings.

  1. Motions. Typically, there are a number of procedural motions filed in order to keep the litigation under control and proceeding in a somewhat orderly fashion. One of the most important motions in a case is called a “motion for summary judgment.” When a motion for summary judgment is filed, the party filing the motion will be asking the Court to declare that the other party does not have any evidence to offer which will prove a particular point and the Court should rule in favor of the moving party on that particular issue without even holding a trial. In some cases, a motion for summary judgment will end the entire case in favor of one party or another. In other cases, a successful motion will only dispose of part of the case and the remainder of the case will be carried over to trial.
    Your Attorney will likely discuss with you if he feels filing a motion for summary judgment is appropriate for your case. If another party files such a motion against you, you will be advised and asked to assist the Attorney in responding to the motion.
  2. Preliminary Hearings. During the course of litigation, hearings with the judge will often take place. These hearings involve a wide variety of matters including procedural issues, scheduling, and legal arguments regarding motions. Sometimes they are held telephonically. Usually it is not necessary for you to attend these preliminary hearings but you are entitled to if you wish. If you would like to attend these hearings, advise your Attorney so that he can keep you advised of the time and place.
  3. Mandatory Arbitration. In Maricopa County, certain claims must proceed to mandatory arbitration before they can be heard as a trial in the Superior Court. Currently, any claim which is for money damages only and for less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) must go through mandatory arbitration. (This should not be confused with arbitration which is mandatory because of a contract such as an employment agreement between the parties.) The arbitration is non-binding unless the parties agree otherwise. A Plaintiff filing a new complaint in the Superior Court must also file a certificate which indicates whether or not the case is subject to arbitration or not. If you are a Plaintiff and feel your claim exceeds $50,000.00, you should advise your Attorney.
    For the mandatory arbitration, the Superior Court randomly appoints an Attorney with at least five years experience who practices in Maricopa County to serve as the arbitrator for the case. Each party can exercise one strike of an arbitrator that they do not want as long as they notify the Court within ten days. After appointment, the arbitrator will then schedule an arbitration hearing where the parties will appear and present their cases. In this arbitration, the rules of evidence are relaxed and certain testimony can be presented by way of affidavit rather than the witness being present. However, it is recommended that parties to the litigation attend.
    After the hearing, the arbitrator will issue a decision - usually within thirty days. After the decision is entered, the prevailing party can then ask the arbitrator to award costs and / or Attorney’s fees. The arbitrator will then rule on that request and file a final award with the Court. From there, any party that is unhappy with the award can appeal the decision to the Superior Court for a brand new hearing. The appealing party must file a bond with the Court for the amount of the arbitrator’s fees (usually $75.00). However, a party who appeals an arbitration award must do twenty five percent (25%) better at a trial or that party will have to pay the other side’s Attorney’s fees incurred after the arbitration plus other sanctions. For example, a Plaintiff who is awarded $10,000.00 at arbitration but appeals must get an award of $12,500.00 or better ($10,000.00 + [25% x $10,000.00)) or face paying the other side’s Attorney’s fees.

E. Trials.

  1. General. Only a small fraction of cases filed in Maricopa County actually end up having a trial in the Superior Court. I would assume that this would be similar to most counties. However, every litigant should be prepared to go to trial just in case. If your case is going to a trial, your Attorney will be very active in preparing so it is crucial that we make the preliminary preparatory steps as soon as possible. The Court will likely have one or more pretrial conferences scheduled as well as filing deadlines for such things as proposed jury instructions, witness and exhibit lists, voir dire questions for the jury panel, and motions in limine (motions to keep certain evidence out of a trial). You should plan on being available to assist your Attorney with these matters as well as preparation for the trial. Your Attorney will want to meet with you prior to the trial for preparation.
    You should plan to be present during the entire time your trial is being conducted. Trials can last anywhere from one day to many weeks depending on the complexity of the case. Usually, the Court will set an estimate of the trial’s length ahead of time based on input from the parties. The basic format for all trials is that the Plaintiff is given the first opportunity to make his/her case to what is called the “finder of fact.” The finder of fact is either the judge in a bench trial or members of the jury in a jury trial. If there is a jury for your trial, the judge will serve only for legal interpretation and conclusions and will not resolve questions regarding witness credibility and factual determinations.
  2. Juries. In a jury trial, the first task is to select a jury. The Court will have a panel of potential jurors (between 20-40) available. Each juror will have filled out an information sheet which we will receive for review. The Court will then ask a number of questions of the potential jurors which are designed to find out if a potential juror has any bias or preconceived ideas about the case. Usually, the parties are then given an opportunity to ask jurors some questions of their own. Following that, either side can challenge a potential juror “for cause” meaning that they feel based on the information provided there is cause for the Court to excuse that juror. Each side will then be allowed to exercise 4 preemptory strikes -- meaning they can remove a potential juror without giving any reason. Then the remaining potential jurors are selected in order until the number of the juror panel (usually 9) is reached.
    Deciding whether or not to request a jury can be an important decision. In some cases, we recommend that the case be heard before a judge only, white in others, we recommend a jury. You should discuss with your Attorney if you have any preference. Some important considerations with jury trials is that they usually add an extra day or more to the length of the trial, add a few hours extra time of pre-trial preparation, and the Superior Court will assess a jury fee which can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars against the losing party. However, the decision to request a jury must be made well in advance of a trial.
  3. Opening Statements. When the case is ready to be heard, the Court will usually give each side an opportunity to make an opening statement which will basically be an outline of what that party expects to prove at the trial. Sometimes, in lieu of or in addition to the opening statement, the Court will read to the jury a general statement of what the case is all about. One key point to remember is that what the Attorneys say is not considered evidence and the jury is instructed not to consider those statements as evidence. The key facts must come from sworn witnesses.
  4. Presentation of Evidence. Then the Plaintiff is given his/her first opportunity and must call witnesses and/or introduce evidence which provides enough information to legally win the case. In some circumstances, the Plaintiff will call the Defendant to the stand as a witness for strategic reasons or because the Defendant’s testimony is needed to make the initial case. If the Plaintiff does not present enough evidence during his/her initial case, the judge may rule against the Plaintiff and dismiss the case. When the Plaintiff is satisfied that he/she has presented the entire case to the jury, the Plaintiff rests his/her case and the Defense then gets a turn to present its case and call its own witnesses and evidence. After the Defense has presented its case, it rests. Finally, the Plaintiff will be allowed to have a rebuttal case to present evidence to respond to evidence brought up by the Defense in its case. The rebuttal case is confined just to that and the Plaintiff cannot bring up new issues or completely new evidence in the rebuttal case.
    1. Witnesses. Witness presentation during trial follows the same format. When a witness is called to the stand, the party calling the witness asks questions of the witness and then the adverse party will be given a chance to “cross-examine.” At the conclusion of cross-examination, the first party will be afforded an opportunity for “redirect” which will also be confined to clarification of questions brought during cross- examination. Some judges will also ask their own questions of a witness and if a jury is present, they will also be given an opportunity to ask questions. However, when a juror has a question, it must be submitted in written form to the judge. The judge will then discuss the question with the Attorneys and then present it to a witness if it is legally appropriate.
  5. Closing Statements. At the close of the rebuttal case, each side will be given an opportunity to make a closing argument to summarize their position. Closing argument can be very important because it will be the last chance you get to persuade the jury. The closing statement, however, is not evidence, but only a summary of the evidence and argument of how that evidence should be weighed and interpreted.
  6. The Verdict. Following that, the case will be submitted to the finder of fact. If it is a jury trial, the jury will deliberate until it makes a decision which is usually within a few hours of the end of the trial. However, in some circumstances, the jury may break and come back the next day to complete deliberation. While the jury is deliberating, the court usually expects the parties and their Attorneys to be available on 15-20 minutes notice to return to the courtroom when a decision is made. If the judge is making the decision, the case will typically “be taken under advisement” and it will be a few days — sometimes as many as 60 -- before a decision is rendered.
  7. Some Notes About Trials. During the trial, there will be many instances where the judge will want to meet privately with the Attorneys to discuss procedural matters. Sometimes this will be through a “sidebar” which is in the courtroom but out of hearing of the jury. Other times, the judge will request to meet the Attorneys in the court chambers. Some judges allow the parties to attend the in-chambers conferences, while others prefer that the parties are not present. It is important to remember that each judge is different and will conduct his / her courtroom in a different manner. The judges have a lot of discretion and can modify or waive many of the formal rules as they feel appropriate.
  8. Your Role. In addition to being a witness at your trial, you can also serve as an additional set of eyes and ears for your Attorney. During trial, your Attorney will be very busy and there will be a lot going on. While witnesses are testifying or judges are speaking, try to avoid unnecessarily distracting your Attorney with questions or comments. It is a good idea to bring a notepad and pen with you to the trial so that you can make notes to give to your Attorney, during breaks, with questions or comments.
    It is also important to remember that you are trying to make a favorable impression on the judge and/or jury. Dress appropriately for court -- no shorts or t-shirts. Your demeanor is very important -- juries have been known to be influenced by legally irrelevant factors such as what kind of shoes a party was wearing. Although it sounds like we are taking you back to high school, “Sit up straight and pay attention!” If you appear disinterested or distracted, the jury may draw an unfair impression. Unless you are a professional actor, and even if you are, it is also a good idea not to dramatize your case.

A. Offers of Judgment.

In Arizona courts, either side can file what is called an offer of judgment. An offer of judgment is a formal written offer to the other side to have a judgment entered in a certain way -- usually for a monetary amount. A Defendant making an offer of judgment will usually offer to allow the Plaintiff to have a judgment for a certain amount of money and vice-versa. When a party receives an offer of judgment, they have 30 (or sometimes 60 if filed early in the litigation) days to decide whether to accept the offer. If the offer is accepted, that party files a notice of acceptance and judgment is entered in that fashion. If the offer of judgment is not accepted, the party who did not accept the offer must achieve a better result after trial or will be faced with some sanctions (monetary penalties from the court) which include double taxable costs and expert witness fees.

B. Collection.

One of the most important factors to consider in litigation is whether a judgment can be collected upon. The Court does not act as a collection agent. When a party prevails in Court they will usually receive a “Judgment’ from the Court which says that the other party owes them a sum of money. (In some limited circumstances, such as a replevin or restitution proceeding, the Court will “order” somebody to return property which is more effective than a judgment.”) The Judgment is nothing more than a piece of paper which can be acted on. The party with the favorable judgment must then take further steps to convert that into money. If the other party has insurance or is a large corporation, the judgment will usually be paid within 10-30 days. A Plaintiff can usually find out early in the litigation whether or not the Defendant has insurance to cover the liability complained of. However, if the other party does not have insurance or is just a private individual or small business, collecting money from the judgment can be more difficult than winning the case.

Many litigants have gone through a lengthy court battle and ultimately prevailed in obtaining a judgment only to find that the other party is insolvent or what we call “judgment proof.” It you are pursuing another individual, you should keep in mind that the debtor protection laws in Arizona and many other states allow the debtor to protect a substantial amount of assets from creditors including $150,000 equity in their residence, a vehicle, furniture, and tools.

C. Scheduling and Other Matters.

  1. General Format. The general format followed in litigation is that one side or the other will have the “Burden of Proof.” At trial, the Plaintiff will have the burden of proof to convince the fact-finder that he/she should prevail on the claim, the Defendant will have the burden of proof for any legal defenses which it offers to Plaintiff’s claim. However, the burden of proof is also used in pretrial procedures and will switch back and forth between the parties. For example, a party who files a motion with the court has the burden of convincing the Court that the motion should be granted even if the other side will bear the burden of proof at trial.
  2. Order of Presentation. As with trial, the general order of presentation of matters is that the party with the burden of proof will be heard first and then the other party will be given an opportunity to respond. Then, the first party will be given a chance to reply (or rebut) the other party’s response. This results in one side essentially getting two shots to the other’s one. Often times this order will take on different variations. For example, some judges during an oral argument will tell everybody how they are inclined to rule and then challenge one party to convince them why they should not rule against that party.
  3. Motions. Motions generally follow the same pattern. The moving party will file its motion with the Court and serve it on the other side. The other side will then be given an opportunity to respond. A response is usually due about 20 days after the motion is filed. However, that time is sometimes extended a couple of weeks by agreement of the parties or by permission from the Court. Most Attorneys will provide another Attorney or party with additional time as a professional courtesy unless there is an urgency to the motion. If no response to the motion is tiled, the motion will likely be granted by the Court. After a response is filed, the moving party will then have about ten days to reply to points raised by the response. When a motion is filed, the court usually sets a date for oral argument. The date is usually within 30-60 days but when the calendar is full, it can be extended longer. After oral argument, the Court then renders a decision. Decisions are usually made within ten days but the judge is allowed up to 60 days. In federal court, the times may be much longer.
  4. Pecking Order. The judicial system operates on the premise that the Court’s time and schedule is more important than yours and ours. Therefore, it is important to be on time or early for any scheduled proceedings. (We have witnessed situations where someone has walked into the courtroom late, just after the judge rendered a decision against them and was leaving the court.) The Court will sometimes reschedule a trial or a hearing a few days before it is set to begin. While both the Client and the Attorney may suffer inconvenience, there is not much which can be done about it. The Court sometimes will set matters for a time which conflicts with another matter and expect us to be there. This can cause a number of problems with scheduling. Therefore, in some situations your Attorney may have to ask another Attorney in the firm to “cover” the hearing. This can also cause problems with deposition scheduling and other matters not involving the Courts. Depositions are sometimes rescheduled multiple times because of these factors. We will try to keep you informed and ask that you be patient with the slow moving legal system. You can take some comfort that we will often be experiencing the same frustration with scheduling as you are.

For most cases, each party has a right of appeal. However, appeals are a review limited mostly to legal questions and will not be a re-trial of your case. Only a small percentage of cases get appealed and even fewer get reversed. After a decision is rendered in the trial court, the Attorneys will have to submit paperwork for a formal entry of judgment by the Court. There may also be a number of post-trial motions submitted to the judge. Until are these matters are resolved, an appeal usually cannot be taken. Sometimes this can delay the matter an additional 60-120 days. The best idea is to not be concerned about an appeal until after everything is concluded in the trial court. Following that, either party will have 30 days to file an appeal from the Superior Court. (If you are in Justice Court, your time to appeal will be much shorter).

Law Offices of Shane L. Harward PLC
Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney
Arizona Wrongful Death Lawyer
10575 North 114th Street, Suite 103
Scottsdale, Arizona 85259

Phone: 480-874-2918
Facsimile: 480-588-5063

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10575 North 114th Street
Suite 103
Scottsdale, Arizona 85259
Telephone 480-874-2918
Facsimile 480-588-5063
By Appointment Only:
4809 East Thistle Landing Drive
Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85044
Telephone 602-384-4638
Mailing Address:
Post Office Box 12877
Scottsdale, Arizona 85267

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