Online Companion: Litigation and Trial Practice



This chapter forms the foundation for the remainder of the text. It is an overview that explains the bases for our complex judicial system. New legal terms are presented.

Civil courts are necessary for the preservation of order in the resolution of disputes. Since the courts would be deluged with litigation if all problems could be brought to court, they created causes of action that formulated the elements for taking a case to court.

The courts devised their procedures and requirements based on practicality. Practical considerations will enable the student to remember the rules and procedures. Fundamental principles of law that should be studied include the following:

  1. Difference between civil and criminal law
  2. State laws and conflicts of laws
  3. Proximate cause
  4. Mitigation of damages
  5. Remedies
  6. Due diligence
  7. Public policy
  8. Constitutional considerations


  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Civil Litigation
  3. Everyone Is Presumed to Know the Law
  4. Legal Duty as a Basis for Claims
  5. Courts' Authority
  6. Jurisdiction
  7. Judges and Juries
  8. Commencement of Lawsuit
  9. Remedies
  10. Civil Penalties
  11. Declaratory Judgments
  12. Litigation Expenses
  13. Real Party in Interest; Necessary Parties
  14. Claims, Counterclaims, Cross-claims, Third-party Claims, Assignment of Claims
  15. Res Judicata, Collateral Estoppel, and Stare Decisis
  16. Settlement of Cases
  17. Appealing Cases
  18. Professional Ethics


American Bar Association

Legal Information Institute

Legal Links



action legal Duty
actionable liable
adverse Parties Model Rules of Professional Conduct
alternative dispute resolution necessary Parties
assault negligence
assignment order for judgment
answer original jurisdiction
battery overrule
breach of contract party
breach of warranty plaintiff
cause of action personal jurisdiction
claim procedural law
collateral estoppel punitive damages
common law real party in interest
compensatory damages relief
complaint remedy
conclusions of law res judicata
contempt of court restraining order
contribution rules of evidence
counterclaim service of process
cross-claims settlement
damages special verdict
declaratory judgment action splitting a case of action
defendant stare decisis
dismissal strict liability
district court subject matter jurisdiction
enjoin subpoena
estop subrogation
evidence substantive law
fact finder summons
findings of fact taxable costs
fraud territorial jurisdiction
guardian ad litem third-party action
general verdict trespass
injunction tortfeasor
judgment vicarious liability
judgment debtor waive



Attend a trial in your local civil trial court. Determine the nature of the case, what specific witnesses you observe, and the parties to the action. Study the layout of the courtroom to determine the location of the following individuals:

  1. Plaintiff
  2. Plaintiff's attorney
  3. Defendant
  4. Defendant's attorney
  5. Judge
  6. Jury (if there is one)
  7. Bailiff