Your trial has run its course…the jury has heard testimony from doctors, experts, and other witnesses. There’s been direct examination from your lawyer, cross examination by the defense attorney and possibly even re-direct examination. All the evidence has been presented and it’s time to wrap up the case with the closing arguments.
Closing arguments are similar to opening statements, but with expanded amounts of information. For example, in the opening statement your lawyer outlined what the trial would entail. Now in the closing argument your lawyer is allowed to expand and argue their points. This makes closing statements much longer and far more passionate and emotional than opening statements.
During the closing arguments the lawyers for each side will talk directly to the jury for the sole purpose of persuading them to see the case their way and to ultimately rule in their client’s favor. It’s very important that you sit quietly and listen throughout the closing arguments. Don’t show emotion, be respectful and never react to any allegations the other lawyer may make against you. The beauty of closing statements is that your lawyer gets to give his or her closing argument first and last! The defense attorney gives his or her closing argument in the middle. This allows your lawyer to state your case and then offer comments or rebuttals about anything the defense lawyer might have presented.
The actual trial is now finished and the case is handed over to the jury to deliberate and make their decision. The jury is given all of the items and documents that have been admitted into evidence by both attorneys. The time it takes for the jury to deliberate will vary depending on the gravity of the case and quality of evidence presented. Remember, this is real life and it differs from TV courtrooms. In reality, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to six or more hours, or even days for the jury to come to a decision and present the verdict to the Judge. When the verdict is read, do not react or show emotion. It’s best to just listen and save your reactions for later.
Verdicts vs. Judgments
Verdicts and judgments are not the same thing. Verdicts are the recommendations that the jury announces to the court. It includes the facts and money decisions they’ve come to after going over all of the documentation and details of the case. The judge will evaluate the verdict amount and then make adjustments to that figure. That adjustment is called a judgment and will be the actual amount you are awarded. Issues such as comparative negligence, medical bills, proposals for settlement, and settlements from a co-dependent are all things that the Judge considers in determining the judgment. Be prepared to accept the fact that the judgment amount can vary widely from the original verdict amount.
You do have a short amount of time to file an appeal if you feel that justice has not been carried out. But be aware that the reason for the appeal must be justified. For instance, don’t ask your lawyer to file an appeal merely because you don’t like the outcome of your case or the amount of money you may have been awarded. There has to be a valid and legitimate reason for an appeal. Appeals are serious business. In Florida the appellant (person filing the appeal) wins only about 15% of the time. Your lawyer will advise you as to whether you have a valid reason to appeal or not. Trust your lawyer’s judgment on this…that’s why you hired him or her!
Call Carey Leisure & Neal for Legal Services in Clearwater, FL
Contact us at (727) 799-3900 for a free no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.