What is a Pre-Trial Conference?
If the Defendant(s) answers the Complaint, the case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference. At the conference, the parties will meet with a judicial officer in an attempt to narrow the issues, determine the number of witnesses to be called, the length of the trial, and to discuss the possibility of settlement.
You will receive notice of the pre-trial conference date by mail along with a pre-trial worksheet, which must be completed by both parties and returned to the Court three (3) days before the scheduled conference. Click here to view a pre-trial worksheet.
How Do I Prepare for Trial?
At the pretrial conference, the judicial officer shall discuss with the parties the number of witnesses to be called and the evidence to be presented. The judicial officer may also set time limits for all motions and discovery to be made prior to trial.
Before going to trial, organize your case. Plan what you intend to say and organize your testimony and arguments so that the judge will be able to understand what happened and why and how you have been wronged or injured. If you plan on calling witnesses, immediately notify them of the trial date. If the witness is unwilling to appear voluntarily, you could request the clerk to issue a subpoena to require a witness to attend and bring specified documents to court. The Sheriff's fee for a subpoena is $10.00, and must be requested at least ten (10) working days before trial.
At trial, if you attempt to provide the court with written statements or affidavits of a witness, this may not be considered as evidence under the Delaware Rules of Evidence if the other party objects, due to the inability to cross-examine the witness as to the written statement.
You also need to bring with you to trial all documents, receipts, photographs, bills, estimates, materials or papers to help prove your claim or counterclaim. You should have three copies of any evidence you wish to submit into the record; one copy for the Judge, one for the clerk and one for the other party. As a Plaintiff bringing the lawsuit, or the Defendant filing a counterclaim, you will be required to prove that you suffered a loss or injury and the actual amount of your loss. If your claim involves property damage, you may bring a qualified witness to testify to the amount of damage and the cost to repair it. If the damage has been repaired prior to trial, you may bring in estimates, canceled checks and receipts to substantiate your loss.