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What is the function of the pleading stage in a civil lawsuit?

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The purpose of pleadings in a civil suit filed with a court is for both parties to the suit to present their positions, and usually include the initial back-and-forth dynamics that are common to civil procedures prior to a trial.  Judges, especially those with a sizable backlog of cases, generally prefer for the parties to a civil suit to negotiate a resolution of the conflict rather than proceed to trial.  That history of pre-trial negotiations are reflected in the pleading, enabling the judge to begin the trial with an adequate assessment of the case’s history.

As the civil suit has brought by an individual or individuals with a grievance, the pleading begins with his or her complaint, which is a presentation of the “facts” as known to the plaintiff, including the relevant section of law.  The defendant presents his or her side of the issue, or offers an explanation that he or she hopes will result in the case being dismissed by the judge.  The two parties may have gone back-and-forth two or more times by the time the case reaches court.  The defendant may file a counter-suit, or file what’s known as a “demurrer,” which is an objection to the legal basis undergirding the plaintiff’s suit.  Pleadings provide the formal initiation of a civil suit, and provide the framework in which the subsequent deliberations take  place.

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