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PRDV301: Introduction to Paralegal Studies

Unit 5: The Legal Process   While you have become familiar with the components of the judicial system, this is obviously not enough for you to be an effective paralegal.  For example, you may know which court to bring a client’s complaint to regarding a claim against the client’s doctor, but what happens when you get there?  What forms and documents have to be filed?  How do you address motions to the judge?

In this unit, you will explore how the process works in dealing with courts and judges.  Certain fundamental filings are required to bring a civil action in court.  Different filings are required for a criminal action.  In addition, you will be introduced to the filing of motions to the court.  Lastly, it is important to understand that many legal processes provide for less formal ways of resolving disputes.  This unit will also introduce you to methods of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR.

Unit 5 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 3 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 5.4: 1.5 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Explain how the civil process works. - Explain how the criminal process works. - Describe methods of alternative dispute resolution. - Describe key roles of the paralegals in the process of litigation.

5.1 Civil Litigation   - Reading: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession: “Chapter 11: Litigation” Link: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession: “Chapter 11: Litigation” (PDF)

 Instructions: Now that you have become familiar with the legal
system, it is time to learn how a case makes its way through that
system.  On the civil side, a trial is the culmination of a
sometimes lengthy process of litigation.  Please click on the link
above and read Chapter 11, which begins on page 101.  In this
reading, you will learn about the importance of jurisdiction and
venue to the litigation process.  In addition, you will learn how
litigation is initiated, and you will familiarize yourself with the
process by which a party may obtain information in the hands of
another party – the discovery process.  Lastly, you will become
familiar with the various ways in which courts may dispose of a
case.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted by the kind
permission of the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College
Correspondence Program and Keith Nordyke.  Please note that this
material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity
without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

5.2 ADR   - Web Media: YouTube: NJIT School of Management: Professor Diana Walsh, Esq.’s “Lecture 3: Alternative Dispute Resolution” Link: YouTube: NJIT School of Management: Professor Diana Walsh, Esq.’s “Lecture 3: Alternative Dispute Resolution” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and watch this brief
lecture.  As its name implies, alternative dispute resolution, or
ADR, provides an alternative method for resolving legal disputes.
 Litigation is generally expensive and time-consuming, and it may be
damaging to important relationships.  ADR offers various methods to
avoid some of these pitfalls, such as negotiation, mediation, and
arbitration.  These three primary methods of ADR are discussed in
this lecture.  Be aware, however, that ADR has its own set of
drawbacks that lawyers must consider in deciding the best approach
to resolving a legal dispute.  

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes will take
approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure   - Reading: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession: “Chapter 13: Criminal Law” Link: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession“Chapter 13: Criminal Law” (PDF)

 Instructions: The process by which a criminal case makes its way
through the legal system is generally similar to civil litigation
but with some very important distinctions.  Please click on the link
above and read Chapter 13, which begins on page 132.  In this
reading, you will learn about two important aspects of criminal law:
substantive and procedural law.  Substantive criminal law addresses
what activities are considered criminal, while procedural law deals
with the rules lawyers and others must follow in participating in a
criminal case.  As with civil litigation, you will find that
jurisdiction plays an important role.  You should also come to
understand the basis for the laws underlying the criminal
prosecution.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted by the kind
permission of the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College
Correspondence Program and Keith Nordyke.  Please note that this
material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity
without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

5.4 The Paralegal’s Role in the Legal Process   5.4.1 Calendaring   - Reading: Link: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “Docket Control” Link: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “Docket Control” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article.  Docket control, also known as calendaring, is an important part of the paralegal’s responsibilities in a law office.  The paralegal is often relied on to ensure that important deadlines are recorded and tracked to ensure timely filings and appearances.  You will note that most modern law offices use some form of electronic calendaring.  Keep in mind the great importance of this task – deadlines, for example, can make the difference between a client recovering damages or being denied.  To perform this important duty, paralegals must not only be organized, but also must be familiar with various rules governing the litigation process.
 
Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.2 The Basics of E-Filing   - Reading: NALS: Kathryn Puza’s “E-Filing Primer” Link: NALS: Kathryn Puza’s “E-Filing Primer” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article.
 Like just about all other aspects of professional life, technology
has changed the way law offices interact with the legal process.
 Most courts in the United States, including the federal courts, now
provide for e-filing of documents required for civil or criminal
actions.  So, for example, pleadings can be uploaded directly to a
court database.  This article gives you an overview of the process
and its importance.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.3 Discovery   - Reading: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “Discovery” Link: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “Discovery” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article.
 Discovery is the process by which the parties to a legal case
exchange information so that everyone is dealing with the same
facts.  Paralegals should be familiar with the court rules that
govern the discovery process.  This process involves requests to the
other party or parties to provide documents.  It can also take the
form of written questions, known as interrogatories, as well as
depositions and requests for expert witness opinions.  Note the
important role the paralegal plays in the discovery process.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: American Bar Association: Erin E. Rhinehart’s “Civil Subpoenas in Federal Court: Successful Preparation and Service of Subpoenas” Link: American Bar Association: Erin E. Rhinehart’s “Civil Subpoenas in Federal Court: Successful Preparation and Service of Subpoenas” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article.  Subpoenas play a vital role in the discovery process.  A subpoena is a court-authorized document compelling a witness to provide testimony or documents in a case.  Failure to abide by a valid subpoena in the absence of any legally recognized exceptions can result in penalties.  This reading gives an overview of the process, focusing on practice in federal courts in the United States.  Though presented from the point-of-view of an associate attorney, paralegals often play an important role in the subpoena process.

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.4.4 Database and Document Management   - Reading: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “File and Records Management” Link: NetPlaces: Steve W. Schneider’s “File and Records Management” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this article.
This article presents a good overview of the process of managing
client files and records.  This is a key function of the paralegal.
 With the massive amount of information that can be collected in a
civil case, it is vitally important that the information be stored
in an organized and easy-to-access manner.  Note that computerized
records management has become the norm in law offices, and
paralegals are required to be familiar with such systems.  Two of
the most common database tools are Summation and Concordance.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.