The Connecticut State Court System
- Superior Court: This is the court of general jurisdiction in Connecticut. It can hear all civil cases, with the exception of those within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Probate Court. In addition, Probate cases can be appealed to the Superior Court.
- Appellate Court: The Connecticut Appellate Court is the state’s intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed from the Superior Court.
- Supreme Court: The Connecticut Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. It has discretion to review cases from the Appellate Court. In addition, certain cases can be appealed directly to the Supreme Court from the Superior Court.
*Some of the above courts in the Connecticut State Court System also have jurisdiction over certain criminal proceedings which are not covered here.
In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 30 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.
After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:
- Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:
- Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
- Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADR is an option for civil cases that are pending in the Superior Court. Arbitration is available for any case where the judgment is expected to be less than $50,000 and a claim for a trial by jury has been filed. Connecticut General Statute §52-410 allows for written agreements, such as waivers, to contain arbitration clauses. If an agreement has such a clause, a party may file an action in Superior Court and the matter will be fast tracked.
If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.
Motions and Appeals
After the jury returns their verdict, the parties may file post trial motions and/or appeal the verdict to the appropriate appellate court in Connecticut.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Connecticut. Should you have a question/concern specific to Connecticut law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut.