Differences Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial
Orange County trial lawyers can provide assistance with making strategic decisions during the course of civil proceedings. One decision that you may have to make is whether you want a trial by jury or a trial by the court. This decision can impact the outcome of the legal proceedings, sometimes in profound ways, and it is a choice that you should make with help from an experienced attorney who has the knowledge of court proceedings necessary to develop a trial strategy aimed at achieving the best outcomes possible.
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide the assistance that you need to make smart choices throughout the process of initiating or responding to a lawsuit. Give our legal team a call today to learn more about the ways in which our experienced trial attorneys can protect your best interests during the entirety of your involvement with the civil justice system.
What are the Differences Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial?
The key difference between a bench trial and a jury trial is whether or not there is a jury to decide the outcome of the case or whether a judge makes a decision.
In all civil court cases, including those in which a jury makes a decision, a judge must preside over the case. It is a judge’s job to answer legal questions, like what instructions are given to the jury and what evidence is admissible during the court proceedings and whether or not a witness can be asked a particular question.
If there is a jury, then it is the jury’s job to listen to the evidence presented, make a decision about what facts are true or false, and determine what the right outcome is based on how the law applies to those facts. The jury determines if a witness is credible, while a judge determines if a witness’ testimony is admissible or not based on the rules of evidence.
In a bench trial, however, there is no jury who listens to the evidence and decides on the truth of each opposing party’s case. Instead, this becomes the job of the judge as well. The judge will still make the key legal rulings about what kinds of evidence can be admitted. However, the judge in a bench trial also makes the kinds of decision the jury normally makes about whether the evidence is convincing enough to warrant a verdict for the plaintiff or whether there is sufficient doubt in the plaintiff’s case that the defendant should prevail.
Both parties have the same legal rights in both a trial by judge and a trial by jury. In both cases, a plaintiff in a civil case has to prove his or her claims by a preponderance of the evidence… which means having to prove the facts as presented are more likely than not to be true. The difference comes down to who makes a decision on how whether the plaintiff has proved his case.
Is a Bench Trial or a Jury Trial Best for You?
It is often difficult to determine whether a bench trial or a jury trial is likely to result in the best outcome possible in a civil case. Judges are, obviously, more familiar with the law and are more likely to make a decision in the case on the basis of an objective application of the law to the facts. Juries may be more inclined to allow emotion to impact their opinion on a case, which could either help or hurt you depending upon the circumstances.
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can evaluate the legal issues raised in a civil case and can devise a comprehensive strategy aimed at helping your business to get the best outcomes possible as those issues are addressed in civil court. Choosing whether to opt for a bench or jury trial is just one of many technical decisions relating to the trial which will need to be made as you determine what legal strategy you should use. You should have a knowledgeable legal advocate by your side for the entirety of the decision-making process.
Getting Help from Orange County Trial Attorneys
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP represents plaintiffs and defendants in all types of business disputes that arise, from breach of contract claims to breach of warranty or product liability cases or employment disputes. Whatever your situation, when you want experienced Irvine trial lawyers on your side to represent your interests, our firm is here for you. Give us a call at 714-505-3000 or contact us online today to find out more about how we can help you.