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What Every Litigant Needs to Know about District Court Cases

All of the information in this section of the website is important to help you win your case. However, here are few key pieces of general information that every person involved in a District Court case should know.



  • A legal claim is different that a moral claim. Just because you have been treated unfairly does not mean that you have a legal case. The law covers many but not all wrongs. Sometimes you have been treated unfairly but the law does not provide protection.

  • Don’t expect the judge to do all of the work to prove your side of the case. People who represent themselves often think that they simply need to show up on the day of the trial and the judge will sort out the legal case. This is especially true in the small claims court. Actually, the person who filed the case must prove the case. If s/he does not prove the case, s/he will lose.

  • You must follow the law to prove your case. This means that you first need to research what the law says about a particular issue. You must also follow the court rules on how to prove your case. This website will help you to do both. A judge must follow what the law and the court rules say and then decide what is “fair”. You need to the law and the rules too. If you do not understand the law and the rules that apply to your case, you may waste time and effort making the wrong argument. You may even lose when you should have won!

  • Defendants need to understand the law, too. Although the plaintiff (the person who started the case) has the burden of proving his/her case, the person who was sued also needs to have the same type of legal knowledge. In order to show the weaknesses in the story told by the other side, you must understand the law and the rules that apply to the case.

  • Consider trying mediation first, especially if the other side is someone you will know in the future. Mediation is an alternative to going to court, In addition, many courts order that mediation be attempted in certain types of cases. When the other side is a relative or a neighbor, you are likely to have a future relationship with that person. It makes sense to consider the least disruptive way to reconcile your differences.

Visit The District Court  Self-Help Website for more information.

Source: 
A special project of the Eastern Shore Regional Library under a Library Services Technology Act grant from the Division of Library Development Services/MD State Department of Education (author: Ayn H. Crawley)
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”