Civil Litigation: What Happens Post-Trial?

  • James Notaris

    CPA, ESQ. Legal Editor

  • Steve Longo

    Executive Editor

    In Brief:

  • The post-trial stage in civil law cases is overlooked yet very important.

  • Appeals take place at this stage, while the winning party often attempts to collect damages.

  • Learn more about what happens after a trial below!

Think a trial ends with the jury’s verdict? Think again!

Post-trial procedures occur after just about every civil law case and can sometimes have major implications. Just because a trial formally ends when a jury renders a verdict doesn’t mean that all the parties involved carry on normally. The post-trial stage often has major consequences that can be just as important, if not more so, than the actual trial itself. 

But just what exactly happens with post-trial procedures? Find out more below!

What Happens After a Trial?

During the post-trial stage, various post-trial procedures take place. Many of these include post-trial motions, or written requests, by both the plaintiff and the defendant regardless of the outcome of the case.  

During this stage of the civil litigation process, a number of things occur that can potentially have a major impact on the outcome of a case. During this stage, one or even both of the parties involved may appeal the judgement of the trial, while the winning party typically tries to collect damages from the judgement. 

Not every losing party, it should be noted, decides to appeal the ruling. However, they always have the right to in every jurisdiction. Appellate courts usually handle appeals specifically in most jurisdictions. 

It’s also important to note that larger court systems, such as the Federal courts and those in larger states, have two layers of appellate courts. The first layer in the Federal system is known as the Court of Appeals, while the second court is the highest court in the jurisdiction, such as the U.S. Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of California as a state-level example. 

If the losing party is unsatisfied with the Court of Appeals’ ruling, they have the right to ask the supreme court of the jurisdiction to hear their case. Typically, while the appeal to the Court of Appeals after a trial is mandatory in most jurisdictions, the appeal to the highest court in the jurisdiction is heard only at the court’s discretion. For the U.S. Supreme Court, this is known as a writ of certiorari – Latin for “to be informed” and the formal request by the court to hear the case. 

Notably, the appeals process is not designed to correct the verdict of the case but rather to review it as a legal safeguard for all parties involved. Appeals courts try to correct any egregious errors that may have impacted the case, but are designed to do so efficiently without causing significant delays or intrusion into the case. 

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Other Post-Trial Procedures

While the appeals process is often the main focus for when it comes to post-trial procedures, it’s certainly not the only thing that happens post-trial. What happens after a trial also includes filing or “entering” the decision with the court’s clerk as well as mailing a “notice” of the court’s decision to all parties involved. In addition, the winning party typically moves to collect damages, especially if they belong to the injury party.

What is Judgement Notwithstanding Verdict?

Judgement notwithstanding verdict (JNOV), also known as renewed judgement matter of law in Federal civil court, is when the presiding judge may alter or even reverse a jury’s verdict. This is rarely done, though it is designed to prevent the jury from rendering any extreme decisions and to allow the judge to intervene if they feel the evidence supporting either party is insufficient.

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