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Civil Litigation

Despite your best efforts to avoid it, you have a need to go to court.

The process can be arduous, but understanding how it works can help you through it.

From a high level, here is how you can progress through a Civil Litigation process:

  1. First, someone (the plaintiff) files a complaint in a California court.
  2. The plaintiff serves the complaint on the defendant(s). They have 60 days to do this [CRC 3.110]).
  3. The defendant files a responsive pleading, representing an answer typically containing a general denial, or
  4. a demurrer (in California),
  5. a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (in Federal Court), or
  6. a motion to strike.

An answer may also contain a cross-complaint against the plaintiff or other parties.

  1. After all parties have responded, the Court will establish there is a case at issue, then the discovery process begins, that can include:
  2. Written interrogatory questions
  3. Depositions
  4. Document Demands
  5. Eventually the Court will schedule a Case Management Conference (CMC). A CMC Statement must be filed with the Court before.  The parties, or their counsel, are required to attend.  Sometimes attorneys appear by telephone with the Court’s permission.
  6. The Court may order the parties participate in mediation during the CMC.
  7. Also, at the CMC, the Court may also set certain dates such as:
    1. Trial
    2. Trial Readiness Conference
    3. First Expert Exchange
    4. Second Expert Exchange
    5. Discovery Cutoff
  1. After a judgment, either side may file post-trial motions.
  2. Either side may appeal a final judgment. An appeal can extend the litigation process by a year or more.

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