Allison Harrison
July 2, 2024

When Do I Get My Day in Court?

In the legal system, the ability to have a trial or “your day in Court” is not as straightforward as it may seem. The litigation process is designed to ensure fairness, impartiality, and a thorough consideration of all relevant evidence and arguments. Simply telling the judge your version of events outside of the established procedures is generally not permitted. This summary is for Municipal, Common Pleas, and Federal Court.

The Litigation Process

When a legal dispute arises that cannot be resolved without a third party, it typically ends up in a lawsuit or arbitration. The complaining party files the appropriate pleadings, such as a complaint or petition, with the court to start the process. The opposing party will then have the opportunity to respond, often by filing an answer or motion to dismiss.

Once the initial pleadings are filed, the discovery phase begins. Discovery is the process by which the parties exchange relevant information, documents, and evidence. This can include taking depositions, issuing subpoenas, and requesting the production of documents. The discovery phase is crucial, as it allows both sides to gather the information necessary to build their case.

After discovery, the parties will typically file motions, such as motions for summary judgment or motions in limine to exclude certain evidence. These motions are argued before the judge, who will then make rulings on the issues presented.

Finally, the case will proceed to trial, where the parties will present their evidence and arguments to the judge or jury. This is the stage where the parties have the opportunity to directly address the decision-maker and make their case. A fast civil case, from complaint filing to trial, typically takes 12-18 months. A more detailed timeline of litigation can be found here.

The Importance of Following Procedures

The reason the litigation process is structured in this way is to ensure fairness and impartiality. The discovery process allows both parties to know the evidence each intends to rely on at the trial so there are no surprises. If the Court allowed parties to bypass the established procedures and directly communicate with the judge outside of formal court proceedings, it could be seen as improper ex parte communication, which is generally prohibited.

Ex parte communication refers to any communication between a party and the judge that occurs without the knowledge or presence of the opposing party. This type of communication is typically forbidden because it could give the impression of undue influence or bias on the part of the judge.

By following the established litigation procedures, the parties ensure that the judge has a complete and balanced understanding of the case. The discovery process allows both sides to gather and present their evidence, while the formal court proceedings ensure that arguments are made in a transparent and equitable manner.

Attempting to circumvent these procedures and directly address the judge with your side of the story could result in sanctions or other adverse consequences. The judge may view such actions as an attempt to improperly influence the proceedings and may take steps to address the issue.

The Timeline for Getting Before the Judge

The timeline for getting before a judge can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case, the court's docket, and other factors. The process can generally take a year or more, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.

The discovery phase alone can be a lengthy process, as the parties must exchange information, conduct depositions, and address any disputes that arise. In Ohio, when written discovery is issued, the other party has 28 days to respond, though the parties may agree to a continuance. Once discovery is complete, the parties will file various motions, which can take time for the court to consider and rule on. For all motions except dispositive, the other side has 14 days to file a Memorandum Contra (in opposition) and the filing party has 7 days to file a reply. This means that most motions are not ripe for the Court for at least 21 days. For dispositive motions, this timeline is elongated even longer - the other side has 30 days to file their Memorandum Contra.

Only after the Court has had an opportunity to review the motions will the case get to trial. The trial itself can be a lengthy process, with the presentation of evidence and arguments potentially taking days or even weeks, depending on the complexity of the case. In Ohio, the judges hear both civil and criminal cases. Criminal cases always take priority due to the Constitutional right to a speedy trial. Often, civil cases will be a week away from trial and will continue for several months because a criminal case needs that date.

It's important to note that the timeline can also be affected by factors such as continuances, delays, and the court's scheduling constraints. As a result, it's difficult to provide a precise timeline for when a judge will hear a case.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Given the complexity of the litigation process and the potential consequences of attempting to bypass established procedures, it's generally advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable legal professional can help you navigate the various stages of the litigation process, ensure that you are properly presenting your case, and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.


In conclusion, while you may really want to directly address the judge with your side of the story, you cannot until all the steps are followed. The legal system has established procedures that must be followed to ensure fairness and impartiality. Attempting to bypass these procedures could result in adverse consequences, so it's important to work within the established framework and seek the guidance of an experienced attorney throughout the litigation process.Schedule a free consultation with us to know more.