How Our Courts Work-The Judicial Branch consists of U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. Courts of Law, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Probate Court, and the U.S. Islands’ Courts. All these branches require attorneys to appear for their respective clients. These attorneys provide their services before the various courts and offer representation in a variety of matters. A typical attorney working for one of the branches will be required to appear at the appropriate court and appear at the appropriate proceedings and all proceedings in the same way as if he was representing his client in the matter in hand. In other words the lawyer will have to act as his client’s lawyer in the same manner that he would if he were representing his client in the matter in hand. This is referred to as “clusion”.
Inclusion means that the attorney appearing in a proceeding will be required to be present and will have to abide by the rules governing that particular proceeding. Rules governing all courts generally call for the attendance of all parties to legal proceedings, including counsel and their respective representatives. Failure to attend can result in sanctions against the attorney. Attorneys do not have to give notice of absence unless it is requested by the opposing party or the court.
Subpoenas. Generally, attorneys are not required to take depositions. However, under some circumstances depositions are mandatory. In criminal cases, mandatory depositions might well be necessary to enable the jury to determine the guilt or innocence of the charged party. In civil cases, depositions are generally the first parties to learn of any facts which tend to cast doubt on any aspect of the case.
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Discovery. Discovery is defined as the process in which a party obtains direct information from another person, such as a person whom the client has retained for the purpose of handling legal affairs. Discovery is the method by which attorneys gain access to the inner workings of a case. Discovery may focus on issues as broad as whether a person suffered an injury at the request of the attorney, whether any facts were hidden from the client, or the identity of a confidential third person who provided information to the attorney.
Attorney-client privilege. The privilege protects communications between an attorney and his/her client. This includes both written and verbal communications. Such privilege does not extend to conversations, the attorney may have with a third person other than the client and with government officials and other related parties. This is the one area where attorneys frequently run afoul of the law by not following appropriate procedures.
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No-win no-fee statutes. Some district courts allow attorneys to charge no fee for cases that lose but generally require some sort of payment in order for the case to succeed. These are known as “no win no fee” (NWNF) cases. In most states, there is a limit on the number of such cases that can be handled at one time. If a high number of such cases happen each year in a state, it can quickly become a problem.
The role of the court clerk. In order for a case to be completed in the court, all necessary paperwork must be filed, and the attorney must attend all proceedings to file paperwork and make important court appearances. Without help from the court clerk, these tasks could not be completed. The court also ensures that all necessary documents are properly filed, which often includes a review of the case by a judge prior to hearing arguments in front of the jury.
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Attorneys are key players in our courts. Our courts face many significant issues, and the work of attorneys is key to ensuring fair trials and affordable resolutions. However, like all workers in any type of industry, attorneys could not do their job without the help of other professionals on the team.
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