Introduction: What Should You Take Away?
If you have never heard this saying “He who controls the process, controls the results”, it is one that is very true and can be used in every aspect of your personal and business life. The concept is very simple: If you know the rules of any game, it’s easier to control the outcome. Think about a basketball player that knows what the rules of the NBA are versus someone that doesn’t—-I’m pretty sure LaBron James, aside from his skills, would fair a LOT better than say me who doesn’t care for basketball and has no idea what I can and cannot do on the Court.
My Story [based on my Firm or other business owners’ stories]
For those of you that have been through Georgia’s legal system, you are all too familiar with how the process works—-it’s not a swift as you might expect it, it’s expensive and it can get contentious at times—-that’s why KLP has made a conscious decision to keep businesses “IN business and OUT of Court”. But let me give a brief step-by-step diagram of the PROCESS of a typical civil court proceeding in State and Supreme Court (NOTE: In Magistrate Court, you can skip the “Pretrial Conference” and “Discovery Period” mentioned below)
1. A civil suit is filed in the county where the Defendant resides, including the filing fee which varies, a summons, Entry of Service Form and Civil Court case filing form; (If it’s not filed in the correct venue and jurisdiction, the Court has no jurisdiction and your case will be dismissed);
2. A process server or sheriff (depending on county rules) will serve the Defendant according to the Georgia Code (There are provisions for Defendants that willfully avoid service);
3. The Defendant has at least 30 days to respond (more depending on certain circumstances) with an Answer and/or counterclaim (This is VERY important—Businesses have to be represented by an attorney in Georgia or risk there being a default judgment if individuals try and file their own answer AND certain counterclaims are compulsory—meaning if you don’t assert them NOW, they are lost forever and you can never bring the claim);
4. Once the Answer is filed, there is a six (6) month “discovery period” in which either side can ask questions and obtain evidence from the other side; (At this time, some people file a “Motion to Dismiss” that can get rid of a case immediately)
5. In between this “discovery period”, there will be a variety of motions–-Motions for Summary Judgment, Motions to Compel, Motions for Contempt, etc. (Remember that Motions ask the Court to do something and the Court may require an actual hearing before deciding either side)’
6. There will be a pretrial conference closer to the date of trial after the six (6) month period where both sides decide and meet with a Judge to decide the “schedule” for the trial—deadlines, witnesses, objections, etc.; and
7. Trial. Good luck with that monster. No lawyer should EVER guarantee the outcome or length or cost of a trial. There are so many other people involved that determine those factors (judge, jury, opposing counsel, Defendant, Plaintiff, etc.)
A few lessons to be learned: Call to action!
1. Give KLP a call at (678) 739-8109 or visit us HERE to sign up for your FREE 15 minute phone consultation or 1-2 hour Business Legal POWER Session. You may have to go through Nos. 1-3 [since you cannot prevent someone from filing suit against you] but No. 4 can get a frivolous case dismissed and attorney fees recouped in some cases.
2. Educate yourself about other items such as business contract terms by following us on social media (below), or listening to our audio powerpoint presentations at www.slideshare.net/kendricklaw or taking a look at our other blogs on this page. You’ll be happy you did.
**The “Legal Life Lessons” Series was started by Attorney Kendrick in 2012 as a way to showcase real life legal situations that either she has experienced or those within her networks have experienced. The goal is to move away from boring, white paper style discussions about the law and focus on creating comfortable conversations about real experiences in the life of Georgia business owners.**
DISCLAIMER: Kendrick Law Practice and its attorneys are ONLY authorized to practice law in Georgia and NO OTHER territory, state or country and therefore any and all legal advice is only applicable for businesses and individuals that reside and/or located in the State of Georgia. Additionally, please be advised that this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship unless there is a signed or electronically filed retainer agreement on file with the Firm.
Kendrick Law Practice, LLC – www.kendricklaw.net (practicing business law exclusively)
Keeping Georgia small businesses “IN business and OUT of Court”
P O Box 630, Lithonia, GA 30058 * (678) 739-8109
Mission Statement: To provide Georgia small businesses PASSION for and ACCESS to HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED and PERSONAL business advice AND legal counseling, including document drafting, document reviewing and negotiating services. View an audio presentation at http://www.slideshare.net/kendricklaw/why-klp-kendrick-law-practice.
Blogs at www.kendricklaw.wordpress.com
Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/kendricklaw