Handbook for Trial JurorsServing the United States District Court
The Civil Case
The following is an example of the kind of civil case jurors in a United States District Court will help decide.
Let us call the case John Smith v. XY Company. This means that John Smith has filed a case against the XY Company.
John Smith is called the plaintiff, the person who begins the case. The XY Company is the defendant. The plaintiff and the defendant are the parties.
The plaintiff, John Smith, states his claim in a paper called the complaint. The defendant, XY Company, replies to the complaint in a paper called the answer. The complaint and the answer are the main pleadings in the case. The points in the pleadings upon which the parties disagree make up the issues of fact and law. Sometimes these issues are set forth in a pre-trial order. This is an order drawn up by the judge after consulting with the attorneys for the parties.