The right to a jury trial is part of the U.S. Constitution. So why don’t most cases reach a jury? Sure, many cases are settled, and some are frivolous, not worthy of being considered. But there are enough meritorious claims to keep our courthouses busy. Or maybe not, according to the nation’s judges. They are dismissing cases left and right. You won’t believe how few cases reach a jury.
When you’re sued and you want to avoid a default judgment, one of the first things you must do is respond. You can respond in a motion or pleading that essentially says, “Yo! I’m here, and I don’t agree with everything you say,” or “You might be right, but I’m not liable,” or “You can’t sue me because you done screwed everything up.” The first is an answer. The second is an answer and affirmative defenses. The third is a motion to dismiss. Here, we’re concerned with the second, the answer and affirmative defense.
Litigation is fluid, and you can file many documents at any stage. However, this list will make you aware of available litigation documents and when they are most commonly filed.
Understanding the litigation process will help you formulate the basic strategies you need to put up an effective fight. These simple strategies are designed to give you an idea of things to look out for at each stage of litigation.
Knowing the elements of an affirmative defense and having the ability to properly assert that defense takes you a long way to managing your case strategically. As a pro se litigant, it also helps you gain much respect (but not much love) from your opponent.
A party seeking equity must come to court with “clean hands”. Makes sense, right? You go to court seeking justice for a wrong someone’s done to you. But when you’ve done something foul yourself, don’t ask a court to help you gain from it.
Don’t you just hate it when people wait to complain about something you did? You might have explained the circumstances or defended yourself if they’d said something at the time. But now you don’t remember the details. The law has an affirmative defense that could help in this situation, the doctrine of laches.
Remember that time you doubled down on crazy? Ben Golden will never forget it. He’s the California Uber passenger who got drunk, hired a ride, forgot his address, got dropped off early, then beat his driver on video. Now he’s suing his victim for sharing the video. That’s crazy squared.
I’ve had plenty of traffic tickets, and I’ve hated every one. But there’s nothing worse than getting one in the mail for something you can’t remember doing. Luckily, there was a link to a video of my car running a stop sign. Well that settles it, right? Not quite. I have many questions, starting with ‘Why is a private company billing me for driving on a public road?’ We will have to see about this because I’ve never lost in traffic court. Things could get ugly.
Those sneaky rules of civil procedure can trip you up on conditions precedent. These are preconditions to filing suit, and if you don’t handle them right — as either plaintiff or defendant — you can sacrifice your claim or defense. If one exists and the plaintiff doesn’t address it, then the case can be dismissed. But if the plaintiff addresses it and the defendant doesn’t deny the allegation in just the right way, the failure of a condition precedent no longer works as a defense. This is one you definitely want to get right.