Pleadings


The law requires that pleadings (the claims of all parties) in a civil lawsuit be in writing. Everything the jury needs to know in connection with the pleadings will be presented in court.

In civil cases, a lawsuit is started with a SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT "served" upon the defendant -- personally delivered to the defendant, left at the defendant's dwelling, or published in the newspaper.

The defendant then serves a written ANSWER to the claim made by the plaintiff.

If the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff which the law permits bringing to trial at the same time the plaintiff's case is tried, this claim is put into writting. It is called a COUNTERCLAIM.

If the defendant makes a counterclaim, the plaintiff submits a written pleading called a REPLY, the plaintiff's answer to the defendant's counterclaim.

After a series of pre-trial procedures, one party serves a CERTIFICATE OF READINESS FOR TRIAL and the lawsuit is placed on the calender of cases to be tried to the court or to a jury.

In criminal proceedings, the complaint of the State of South Dakota or of a city is in writing. The answer of the defendant is made orally in court and is generally a simple statement of "guilty" or "not guilty." A counterclaim does not exist in a criminal action.


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