Helping Oregon residents understand the court system

A court is a legal institution set up by the government that allows for a standard process to settle private disputes. The court abides by the adversarial process, which entails two sides presenting their case to a fact finder. In most cases, the fact finder is either the jury or a judge. The goal of each side is to emphasize the facts of their case while pointing out the flaws in the other side's argument.

Depending on the scope of a judge's ruling or a jury's verdict, those not directly involved in a given case may be impacted by its result. For instance, the ruling in the case Brown v. Board of Education meant that all black students could enroll in schools with white students present. When a court rules, it generally creates a precedent for other courts to rule in similar cases, which may also impact those who were not directly involved in the precedent setting case.

If there is no longer a question as to how to settle a case or whether a particular act was illegal, there may be no need to ask a court for help. Such issues may be settled in the supreme court of a state, or, in rare cases, the U.S. Supreme Court.

When two people get into a civil dispute, it may be necessary to take the matter to court to get a fair and proper resolution. Those who go through the civil litigation process may wish to hire an attorney to help with the case. An attorney may be able to use physical evidence and/or witness testimony to create an argument that leads to a favorable outcome for an individual.

Source: Findlaw, "What is a Court?", December 17, 2014

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