Why does a legal case take so long to complete?

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Justice is said to be impartial and objective, but it is not necessarily fast. On television and in movies, a case can be resolved within an hour or so; however, this type of speed is not realistic in a real-life setting. You might be wondering why does a legal case take so long to complete? Although every case is inherently unique and will have its own schedule, the following is a general explanation by a Bangor ME lawyer of why legal cases take some time to reach a completion.


The Court Calendar


A courthouse tends to be very busy every day of the working week. There will be many cases that need to be heard, and only so many judges available to preside over each case. This results in limited calendar space. A civil court case typically takes 12-18 months; whereas, a criminal case is often sooner due to the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.


The Trial Process


In addition to the court schedule, the actual process of a legal case will also take some time. Procedural rules that govern the process of a legal action must be adhered to. Each step in this process can add to the complexity and length of a case.


For example, in a civil lawsuit, the first step begins with filing the lawsuit and serving it to the opposing party. The defendant then has between 20 and 30 days to reply to the complaint.


Gathering Evidence


This is also known as the process of discovery. At this time, both parties will seek evidence that supports their side. In civil cases, both sides may also send questions to one another which should be answered under oath. The production of documents may also be requested from one or both sides.


In general, each party will have between 20 and 30 days to produce the requested documents. The time to complete the process of evidence will be dependent on the judge’s orders. Typically this between three and six months. This step can be delayed if there are any disputes. When this holds true, a motion must be filed and then a court date is set. A judge will listen to the matter and make a decision on whether or not the evidence can be admitted.


The Deposition Process


After the discovery process, a deposition(s) will be scheduled. A deposition is held outside of the courthouse and includes each sides’ lawyer and a court reporter. During this time, the plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses may be asked to provide a testimony under oath. This process may take two to six months to complete depending on how many witnesses there are.

Mediation and Arbitration


Approximately 90% of civil cases will be settled without going to trial. Often, mediation or arbitration conferences are held at the nine-month mark. During a session, both parties presents their side and come to an agreement with the help of legal representation. In arbitration, a settlement will be determined by a panel. After which, both parties have around one month to accept or reject the settlement.


If both agree to it, the case is settled. If not, a special settlement conference may be held in front of a judge. If a case cannot be settled through alternative dispute resolution, traditional litigation may proceed.


Going to Trial


When your case is going to trial, there will be many pre-trial concerns that will likely be discussed at a hearing or conference. In these sessions, evidence will be discussed, agreed to, or contested. Pretrial procedures can take time, but once complete, a trial date will be set. The trial itself can take a couple of hours, a few days, weeks, or even months depending on the type of case.


Reaching a Judgement


After the jury reaches a verdict, the judge will order his or her judgment which can then be appealed to a higher court if one party is not happy with the outcome. It is nearly impossible to have your case get to a trial in under one year; even with the best lawyers.


When you are filing a legal case, the most important thing will be to ensure your case is competently prepared. For this reason, it is prudent that you hire a skilled and experienced lawyer Bangor ME clients trust from David Bate Law Office who is able to represent plaintiffs and defendants.