When a final judgment is entered, the plaintiff is usually barred under the doctrine of res judicata from relitigating any of the issues, even under different legal theories. Judgments are typically a monetary award. If the defendant fails to pay, the court has various powers to seize any of the defendant's assets located within its jurisdiction, such as:
1. “A court may not render a judgment which transcends the limits of its authority, and a judgment is void if it is beyond the powers granted to the court by the law of its organization, even where the court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter. Thus, if a court is authorized by statute to entertain jurisdiction in a particular case only, and undertakes to exercise the jurisdiction conferred in a case to which the statute has no application, the judgment rendered is void.” 46 Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 25, pp. 388-89.
A trial can to be the most risky option for resolving a case. This is because a third party, meaning a judge or jury, is determining your guilt or innocence. Even in the strongest of cases, judges and juries have found defendants guilty in the face of significant reasonable doubt. While you usually have appeal rights of some sort if you feel you are wrongfully convicted, you must be aware when opting for a trial that you are leaving your fate open to someone else’s decision making. This means that if you are found guilty, you are subject to whatever consequence the judge decides upon consistent with the law.
At trial, each person presents witnesses and the evidence collected is recorded. After this occurs, the judge or jury renders their decision. Generally speaking, the plaintiff has the burden of proof in making his claims, however, the defendant may have the burden of proof on other issues, such as affirmative defenses. The attorneys are held responsible in devising a trial strategy that ensures they meet the necessary elements of their case or (when the opposing party has the burden of proof) to ensure the opponent will not be able to meet his or her burden.
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Though the majority of lawsuits are settled before ever reaching a state of trial, they can still be very complicated to litigate. This is particularly true in federal systems, where a federal court may be applying state law (e.g. the Erie doctrine, for example in the United States), or vice versa. It is also possible for one state to apply the law of another in cases where additionally it may not be clear which level (or location) of court actually has jurisdiction over the claim or personal jurisdiction over the defendant, or whether the plaintiff has standing to participate in a lawsuit. About 98 percent of civil cases in the United States federal courts are resolved without a trial. Domestic courts are also often called upon to apply foreign law, or to act upon foreign defendants, over whom they may not even have the ability to even enforce a judgment if the defendant's assets are theoretically outside their reach.