Atlanta Civil Litigation Attorneys: Civil Litigation in Federal and State Courts
Georgia civil litigation covers civil lawsuits as well as a variety of other non-criminal disputes. In Atlanta as well as elsewhere in Georgia, two court systems are available for resolving civil disputes – Georgia state courts and federal courts. Which type of court hears your dispute depends on the nature and circumstances of your dispute. Except in small claims court, you will be expected to comply with the rules of civil procedure even if you are not a lawyer.
Civil Procedure: The Basics
The Atlanta civil procedure process begins long before trial. A case generally proceeds as follows:
- The plaintiff identifies a court with the appropriate personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. A civil court in the defendant’s place of residence (or business, if the defendant is a company) is usually appropriate, but certain other courts might be appropriate as well.
- The plaintiff files a formal written Complaint with an appropriate court. Atlanta civil procedure law requires that the Complaint conform to detailed formatting and content rules.
- A public official formally serves the defendant with a summons (notifying him of the proceedings) and a copy of the Complaint.
- The defendant files a formal Answer with the court. In Atlanta, the defendant normally has 30 days to file an Answer.
- The plaintiff and the defendants gather facts about the case through the discovery process. Discovery procedures include filing written interrogatories with each other, cross-examining each other and demanding documents from each other. Third-party witnesses may also be involved. If necessary, the court can enforce discovery by issuing subpoenas and citing uncooperative parties for contempt of court. The discovery process may go on for several months or longer.
- A trial is convened. Witnesses are called, evidence is presented, and the court issues a decision.
- The losing party may file at least one appeal. If an appeal is filed, the entire civil procedure process starts all over again.
Atlanta State Courts
To proceed with a civil action in Atlanta, you will most likely end up litigating in the Fulton County Superior Court. In Georgia, most counties have their own Superior Court. If you are dissatisfied with the result, you will probably have to appeal to the Court of Appeals, also located in Atlanta. Although the Supreme Court of Georgia is the last resort state court, in most cases the Supreme Court can and will refuse your request for an appeal. In some cases you may appeal from state court to federal court.
The federal courts in the Northern District of Georgia serves the Atlanta metro area. Not every case is eligible for federal litigation, however. To qualify for federal jurisdiction, a civil action must:
- Include one plaintiff and one defendant from different states and involve an amount in controversy of at least $75,000 (diversity jurisdiction); or
- Involve an issue of federal law, such as a claim that a particular state law violates the U.S. Constitution (federal question jurisdiction).
Federal civil procedure is similar to Georgia civil procedure. In an Atlanta civil dispute, your case is most likely to be heard by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. An appeal will most likely be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Both of these courts are located in Atlanta. It is unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to accept your appeal.
Getting Legal Help of Atlanta Civil Litigation Attorneys
Civil procedure law is complex, arcane, and detailed. Independent business entities such as corporations and limited liability companies generally must be represented by a Civil Litigation Attorney Atlanta. Although an individual is normally entitled to represent himself in a civil action, it has been said that representing yourself in court is about as wise as performing surgery on yourself. At Danowitz and Associates P.C., we enjoy years of experience in helping our clients through the legal maze that the Georgia court system represents. For a free initial consultation, call us at 770-933-0960 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Danowitz & Associates P.C
300 Galleria Parkway, Suite 960, Atlanta, GA 30339