PRIVATE TRIALS

 

Did you ever wonder how it is that Judge Judy or Judge Brown can litigate a case in a TV studio.  Utah state statute allows litigants to contract for a binding private trial of their claims.  The trick is: both parties need to agree to do a private trial and the parties have to pay someone to be their private judge.  While it is always advisable to be represented by an attorney, sometimes the cost of your own attorney makes litigating an issue impractical or impossible.  If your company is a corporation or an LLC, the law will not allow you to represent your company in District Court.  You can represent your company in a private trial.  The technical term for private trial in the Utah statute is “arbitration” and the private judge you hire is called an “arbitrator.”   The Utah state statute that allows this process and empowers a private judge with almost all the powers of a District Court judge is the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act.  The problem with bringing an action in District Court is the cost to bring your action to trial.  The odds are that even a relatively simple case will cost you $20,000 to take all the way through trial with no guarantee as to outcome.  


We have developed a system, complying with the ethical and legal standards of the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act that is designed to expedite the process, but still allow fair access to the evidence on the part of both parties. Evidence gathering and disputes over evidence cause the greatest escalation of cost in the traditional system. Our managing attorney will act as your judge in a private trial for under $1500 per side for the case, you are not required retain an attorney, and your case can be prepared, tried, completed, and binding on all parties within 60 days if the parties are willing to commit to the Quantum Trial process.  


THE QUANTUM TRIAL PROCESS


Quantum physics is the physical science of the smallest particles. When one reduces matter down to the irreducible smallest particles you are at the quantum level.  When one reduces the trial process to its irreducible simplest level you have a quantum trial.  The beauty and the curse of the Uniform Arbitration Act is its flexibility.  A private arbitration trial can be operated on the simplest most quantum level or it can virtually mimic a trial in District Court with all its complexities, technicalities and safeguards.  In the later case the only advantage to the arbitration is its private nature and faster result.  It is still a very expensive process.  Operated on the quantum level a trial is fast, efficient, and inexpensive and most of all friendly to the party without an attorney.  The further along the complexity scale a private trial is conducted the greater the disadvantage to the attorneyless party.  When one elects fast and efficient one begins to fear a sacrifice of fairness.  The quantum trial process includes our best efforts to insure a process by which evidence can be fairly obtained by both parties, without disadvantage to the parties without attorneys, minimizing unethical surprises at trial, while preserving the bare bones simplicity required to preserve efficiency.  The key to fairness is the “initial meeting.” 


The Initial Meeting


Once we have been engaged to do a private trial, an initial meeting will be scheduled at the convenience of the parties.  The meeting will be conducted in an informal manner by the private judge, who will first attempt to figure out roughly what each party’s claims are against the other and what the parties positions are.  Next he will explain the nature of evidence, what works and what doesn’t work and give guidance to any unrepresented party about what they should be looking for to prove their case or defend themselves.  Each party will indicate what documents and evidence they need from the other party and the parties will discuss in a collaborative mode, what is reasonable to expect to be produced from each party, what witnesses the parties will call, and what they expect them to say.  The parties will be given 20 days to produce copies of the evidence agreed upon in the form agreed upon and to provide a list of witnesses they intend to call and a summary of what the witnesses will say to the extent not disclosed at the initial meeting.  All evidence will be produced subject to a confidentiality protective order issued by the private judge.  Subpoenas will be issued where necessary to obtain critical evidence not in the possession of the parties and to compel attendance of witnesses to the private trial.  No depositions, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, or interrogatories will be allowed unless both parties agree.  A day long private trial date will be set at the initial meeting to accommodate the schedule of the parties, their witnesses, and the private judge between 40 and 70 days out from the date of the initial meeting.  If expert witnesses are required, the form of the report and process of receiving the experts report in advance of trial will be decided upon.  The private judge may appoint his own expert witnesses and call his own witnesses if appropriate.  All of the foregoing will be resolved in a way to simplify the process while balancing fairness.  By the end of the initial meeting, the parties and the arbitrator will know where they are going and what their responsibilities will be.


The Private Trial

 

The Private Trial will be conducted at any location the parties agree upon.  If the parties cannot agree, the trial will be conducted at our offices.  Witnesses may appear in person if possible or by phone where appropriate.  Witnesses will testify under oath.  Parties my also submit witness testimony by written statements but unexamined statements will not receive much weight at trial.  All issues of law will be dealt with at trial.  Any party may, but is not required to, submit a legal argument about any issue effecting the case.  Such argument need not be in any particular format but must be submitted to the  private judge and the other parties at least 10 days before the trial.   Any response to such legal argument may be submitted/or argued at the trial.  Each party will be given 3 hours to use as they please.  Arrangements can be made for a longer trial at additional cost if the parties agree to an extended trial.  Legal argument time and cross examination time will be deducted from the party’s allotted time. The trial will be conducted informally but cordially.  The private judge may ask a lot of questions and may take over cross examination if there is too much rancor between the parties.  A final award will be issued within 2 business days of the trial.  All of the forgoing is subject to modification if all the parties agree.  The trial can be made as long and complex as the parties may determine, but if the parties don’t agree to a more drawn out and complex process, the private judge will try to keep things as simple as possible without violating common sense fairness.

 

Brought to you by Business Law Associates, L.C., Utah's Small Business Law Firm, 8170 S. Highland Dr, Suite E5, Sandy UT  84093, 801.944.5255.