Frequently Asked Questions–“Will I Be in Court?”


Here is a question that is frequently asked by our clients.

Question:  Will I be in court?  Will my case be in court?

Answer:  Clients often think of “being in court” as being on trial as has been depicted in movies and television.  A client’s case may be in court, but the client may never see the inside of a courtroom.

When we file a lawsuit for a client, the client is “in court”.  The client has a lawsuit filed in court, and the lawsuit is a public record.  During the life of a lawsuit there might be many motions, court conferences, and other hearings which do not require the client’s appearance in the courthouse.  Indeed, the examination before trial, one of the few pre-trial procedures involving the client, does not occur in the courthouse.  The deposition is done either in lawyers’ offices or a court reporter’s office.

Therefore, a client’s case can be “in court” for a long time before an actual trial begins.  The fact that the client’s case is “in court” does not mean that the client will physically be in court for trial for days or weeks at a time.

Ultimately, most clients ask this question because they want to know what are the chances of an actual trial.  Many clients are either thrilled with the opportunity of a trial (just like in Perry Mason) or are in great apphrension of having to spend weeks on trial.

The chances of a full-blown trial are low since the vast majority of cases settle.  Nonetheless, we prepare all cases for trial so as to place the client’s case in the best position for either trial or settlement.

Therefore, a client’s case may “be in court” without the client having to “be in court” for a full trial.

Mark E. Seitelman, 7/8/08, www.seitelman.com

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