A trial refers to the presentation of evidence in court to a judge or jury who/whom applies the applicable law to those facts and then ultimately decides the case.
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A judicial examination and determination of facts and legal issues arising between parties to a civil or criminal action.
In the United States, the trial is the principal method for resolving legal disputes that parties cannot settle by themselves or through less formal methods. The chief purpose of a trial is to secure fair and impartial administration of justice between the parties to the action. A trial seeks to ascertain the truth of the matters in issue between the parties and to apply the law to those matters. Also, a trial provides a final legal determination of the dispute between the parties.
The two main types of trials are civil trials and criminal trials. Civil trials resolve civil actions, which are brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights. In general, all types of actions other than criminal actions are civil actions. In a criminal trial, a person charged with a crime is found guilty or not guilty and sentenced. The government brings a criminal action on behalf of the citizens to punish an infraction of the criminal laws.
The cornerstone of the legal system in the United States is the jury trial. Many of the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which set forth the law of the land, are based on the issues and disputes raised in jury trials. The jury trial method of resolving disputes is premised on the belief that justice is best achieved by pitting the parties against each other as adversaries, with each party advocating its own version of the truth. Under the adversary system, the jury, a group of citizens from the community, decides which facts in dispute are true. A judge presides at the trial and determines and applies the law. At the end of the trial, the judge will enter a judgment that constitutes the decision of the court. The parties must adhere to the judgment of the court.
Not all trials are jury trials. A case may also be tried before a judge. This is known as a court trial or a bench trial. A court trial is basically identical to a jury trial, except the judge decides both the facts and the law applicable to the action. A criminal defendant is always entitled to a trial by jury. Also, common-law civil claims usually are tried by jury. Often, however, actions created by statute may be tried only before the court. In some court trials, the court will have an advisory jury. The advisory jury observes the proceedings just as an ordinary jury would, but the judge need not accept the advisory jury's verdict.
Duhaime Legal Dictionary
The resolution of a dispute by examination of evidence submitted by opposing litigants by a tribunal or Court of law, and determination of (1) guilt (in a criminal trial) or (2) of a civil dispute of fact or law.
A judicial examination of issues of fact or law disputed by parties for the purpose of determining the rights of the parties.
n. the examination of facts and law presided over by a judge (or other magistrate, such as a commissioner or judge pro tem) with authority to hear the matter (jurisdiction). A trial begins with the calling of the parties to come and be heard and selection of a jury if one has been requested. Each party is entitled to an opening statement by his/her attorney (or the party if he/she is representing himself/herself), limited to an outline of what each side intends to prove (the defense may withhold the opening statement until the defense is ready to present evidence), followed by the presentation of evidence first by the plaintiff (in a civil case) or prosecution (in a criminal case), followed by the defense evidence, and then by rebuttal evidence by the plaintiff or prosecution to respond to the defense. At the conclusion of all evidence each attorney (plaintiff or prosecution first) can make a final argument which can include opinion and comment on evidence and legal questions. If it is a jury trial, the judge will give the jury a series of instructions as to the law of the case, based on "jury instructions" submitted by the attorneys and approved, rejected, modified and/or added to by the judge. Then the jury retires to the jury room, chooses a foreperson and decides the factual questions. If there is no jury, the judge will determine legal issues and decide factual questions and render (give) a judgment. A jury will judge the factual issues and decide the verdict based on the law as given in the instructions by the judge. Final verdict or judgment usually concludes the trial, although in some criminal cases a further trial will be held to determine "special circumstances" (acts which will increase the punishment) or whether the death penalty should be imposed. Throughout a trial there may be various motions on legal issues, some of which may be argued in the judge's chambers. In most criminal cases the exact punishment will be determined by the judge at a hearing held at a later time.
Lect Law Library
Was originally done in one of three ways: compurgation; trial-by-combat; ordeal. Jury trial developed in England as a fourth alternative.
The examination before a competent tribunal, according to the laws, of the land, of the facts put in issue in a cause, for the purpose of determining such issue.
There are various kinds of trial, the most common of which is trial by jury. To insure fairdess this mode of trial lust be in public; it is conducted by selecting a jury in the manner prescribed by the local statutes, who must be sworn to try the Hiatter in dispute according to law, and the evidence. Evidence is then given by the party on whom rests the onus probandi or burden of the proof, as the witnesses are called by a party they are questioned by him, and after they have been examined, which is called an examination in chief, they are subject to a cross-examination by the other party as to every part of their testimony. Having examined all his witnesses, the party who supports the affirmative of the issue closes; and the other party then calls his witnesses to explain his case or support his part of the issue these are in the same manner liable to a cross-examination. In case the parties should differ as to what is to be given in evidence, the judge, must decide the matter, and his decision is conclusive upon the parties so far as regards the trial; but, in civil cases, a bill of exceptions way be taken, so that the matter may be examined before another tribunal. When the evidence has been closed, the counsel for the party who supports the affirmative of the issue, then addressess the jury, by recapitulating the evidence and applying the law to the facts, and showing on what particular points he rests his case. The opposite counsel then addresses the jury, enforcing in like manner the facts and the law as applicable to his side of the case; to which the other counsel has a right to reply. It is then the duty of the judge to sum up the evidence and explain to the jury the law applicable to the case this is called his charge. The jurors then retire to deliberate upon their verdict, and, after having agreed upon it, they come into court and deliver it in public. In case they cannot agree they may, in cases of necessity, be discharged: but, it is said, in capital cases they cannot be. Very just and merited encomiums have been bestowed on this mode of trial, particularly in criminal cases. The learned Duponceau has given beautiful sketch of this tribunal; "twelve invisible judges," said he, "whom the eye of the corrupter cannot see, and the influence of the powerful cannot reach, for they are nowhere to be found, until the moment when the balance of justice being placed in their bands, they hear, weigh, determine, pronounce, and immediately disappear, and are lost in the crowd of their fellow citizens."
The adversarial process or resolving disputes either civil or criminal whereby evidence is presented before a judicial body in relation to existing law and a resolution is reached.
In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute.