How Do I Prepare My Case For Trial?

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You must prove your case. Proof consists of the testimony of witnesses and physical evidence. Before going to court for the trial, you should write down the facts and details of your case in the order in which they occurred. Use only the necessary details but be prepared to tell the whole story. Gather all physical evidence, for example, documents, contracts, leases, receipts, canceled checks, rent receipts, I.O.U.’s, sales receipts, diagrams, guarantees, warranties, photos of damaged items, etc. Bring original documents and at least one legible copy of each.

If you claim the other party carelessly damaged your car, you may prove your loss by a paid repair bill or by bringing as a witness a qualified car repairman who has inspected the car. Estimates of repair costs are not sufficient for this purpose, unless the persons who prepared them are in court and are qualified (experienced, trained) repairmen.

You may bring to court witnesses to testify to their personal knowledge and observations relevant to the case. Do not bring letters or affidavits from witnesses on the theory the witnesses could not appear personally. Such letters or affidavits are not admissible in evidence even though written under oath and notarized. If witnesses refuse to attend the trial, you may have the court order the witness to come to court with a subpoena. (See Section R.) You may testify as a witness in your own case. You may also call the defendant(s) as a witness(es) and ask questions of them. Be prepared to make a brief but complete statement explaining your side of the case using your physical evidence, if any. It is a good idea to practice ahead of time what you are going to say to the Judge. Write out all questions you want to ask your witnesses.

If you intend to support your claim by something said to you or your witnesses by the defendant, let the Judge know when and where the conversation took place and who was present to hear the admission.

If you have several paid bills which you claim the other side owes you, it is helpful to prepare a separate list of those items and amounts, and to add up the total claimed.

Be prepared to show your exhibits to the opposing party as the Judge may direct you to do this before the trial begins.
After the trial begins, it is extremely rare for the Judge to allow a continuance to another day, so be prepared to prove your entire case. Plan ahead to answer the proofs of the opposing party.