Introduction to Pre-Trial Practice
Service of process:
This chapter focuses on "pre-trial practice," the process during a lawsuit that occurs before trial. One way to think of pre-trial practice is to think of what happens from the day that the lawsuit is filed to the point just before the attorneys enter the courtroom.
Pre-trial practice is divided into several stages. The first stage is the commencement of a lawsuit. Two essential components of beginning a lawsuit are (1) the filing of the summons and complaint, and (2) the proper service of process of these documents on the appropriate opposing parties. The first subchapter will explore these two areas in greater depth.
The next stage of pre-trial practice is discovery. In brief, discovery is the method by which the parties gather information prior to trial. This information may take many different forms, such as photographs, maps, documents, or videos. The second subchapter will discuss discovery in depth, particularly focusing on depositions, interrogatories, and other investigation techniques. In addition to the exploration of the discovery process, the subchapter will also explore the requirements of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which delineates attorneys' obligations and sanctions.
Following discovery, the next stage of pre-trial practice is "motions practice." Motions practice refers to the parties’ use of motions, which are written or oral requests for the court to issue an order or ruling on a particular legal issue. The third subchapter will explore types of motions that may be requested before trial, such as motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. The use of these motions may expedite litigation and lead to a faster resolution of a lawsuit without the expense of going to trial.
The fourth subchapter explores other litigation tools that attorneys may utilize to help expedite the litigation and settlement of claims. Joinder, interpleader, and impleader are procedural devices that help bring other parties into an action that may have a stake in a lawsuit or combine similar legal claims between certain parties to resolve them.
The final subchapter will discuss two legal doctrines known as res judicata and collateral estoppel. Res judicata is applied when the court recognizes that parties have already litigated the same claims in a previous lawsuit. Therefore, the court precludes the re-litigation of the lawsuit. Collateral estoppel is applied when the same issues now before the court have already been litigated in a previous lawsuit. These topics will be explored in the fifth subchapter.