When you’re involved in a legal dispute, it’s easy to become confused by the various legal terms that glide off your lawyer’s tongue. Here is a brief overview of four common legal terms you may encounter.
A deposition is part of a civil lawsuit’s pre-trial process known as “discovery.” Depositions allow both parties to discover more information about the case from key witnesses. During a deposition, a lawyer asks the witness a series of questions about events and facts relevant to the case. The witness’s responses are taken under oath and recorded word-for-word by a court reporter. Lawyers for both sides are present during the deposition, usually in one of the attorney’s offices.
The witness’s testimony allows the lawyers to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Depositions are also valuable for holding witnesses accountable for their statements, especially if they change their story during the trial. A witness who fails to tell the truth during a deposition risks civil or criminal penalties.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process many people use to avoid going to trial in a civil dispute. In mediation, a neutral third-party facilitator, known as a mediator, helps the parties negotiate a resolution to the legal issue. The mediator helps the parties identify solutions by asking questions, reframing problems, seeking concessions, and clarifying misunderstandings. Many parties prefer meditation as it is less hostile, expensive, and time-consuming than litigation. If mediation fails, the parties can proceed with traditional litigation that permits a judge or jury to resolve the matter.
Like mediation, arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution for civil disputes. In an arbitration proceeding, the parties agree to submit their dispute to one or more arbitrators who will make a binding decision based on the facts and testimonies presented. Many parties in dispute choose arbitration because, unlike court proceedings, it is a private and confidential process. The parties also have control over some aspects of the arbitration, such as who will serve as an arbitrator, applicable law, the venue of the arbitration, and which language will be used. Arbitration is a popular option for organizations involved in an international dispute.
A trial is a legal process where the parties argue their case before an impartial judge or jury (adjudicators). In a trial, the adjudicator will decide whether a defendant has committed the criminal or civil violation they’re accused of98. The adjudicator’s decision must be based exclusively on the evidence presented during the trial, including documents and witness testimony. Trials are expensive and time-consuming processes and emotionally exhausting for all parties. However, sometimes they are the only feasible and fair way to resolve a dispute.
If you’re facing a potential legal dispute in Colorado, don’t try to figure the issue out alone. Speak with a caring and experienced attorney as soon as possible. Call our office at (303) 493-9861 or contact us online to get answers to your questions and start down the path to resolution.