What happens in the trial process?
Trial is a formal matter, with each side usually having the right to have a trial by jury, which is made up of six to twelve lay persons selected from the voter roles of the locale. If both sides wish, they can waive the jury and have the, Judge, alone try the case. This is called a "bench" trial. Trials can last from a day or two to a year or more. Most commercial trials last between a week to three weeks. Each side has an opening statement, then the Plaintiff presents its case, followed by the Defendant presenting its case. The parties use witnesses and documents to prove their case and each witness, after testifying, may be cross examined by the counsel for the other side. One can force a witness to appear and can call the other side to the stand to be cross examined. After the parties have presented their respective cases, each side gives a closing argument to the judge or jury and a decision is rendered. It is up to the Parties and their lawyers to prove their case and conduct the trial. The judge makes sure the proper procedure and laws are obeyed. For this reason, in the United States, the attorney is a critical part of proving your case. The judge will not conduct an investigation of the facts. It is up to your lawyer, using documents, witnesses, and cross examination, to prove the case to the satisfaction of the Court or the jury. Even if the judge sees a party making an error or failing to prove a case, the Judge will normally not help.