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Court Observation of a Civil Case

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In February, specifically on the 14th of February, I had the opportunity and privilege to observe a civil case. This case took place in Newark, NJ, at the Superior Court. The judge presiding over this case was Judge Jose L. Linares. Liger6, LLC v. Antonio et al was an interesting case, to say the least, it was based on a dispute involving contract details, in which the Defendants vehemently deny the existence of a contract. Regardless of how lengthy it was, I chose to watch this case in its entirety simply because of how interesting the case was, and for the fact that I finally got to witness many aspects of a civil court case in general. By the end, I received a better understanding of how a court case truly works.

I would be lying if I said I was not nervous when I stepped inside the courthouse. Visiting the courthouse is one thing, but actually getting the chance to observe a case made me feel excited but anxious at the same time. The environment was pleasant, but the structure of the building itself was incredible. Getting to the room was somewhat confusing, though I was accompanied by a friend, (he happens to work for the court), who was more familiar with the building than I was. He assisted me in getting to the room and I settled in waiting for the case to begin. By the time I had arrived, some staff and personnel were already seated and had been preparing for the first part of the case to begin.

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Liger6, LLC v. Antonio et al began as a complaint made by the Plaintiff who accused the defendants of entering an alleged contract through an oral agreement. The docket number for the case was 13-4694. Plaintiff was a distributor of bicycles that were manufactured by the Defendants. Plaintiff alleged that there was an oral contract in which Plaintiff would be the sole distributor of Defendant’s products. After agreeing to the terms of this alleged contract, it was claimed to be breached by the Defendants. It was breached due to the Defendants terminating their relationship with Plaintiff. In response to this, the Defendants, Enrico Sarto and Antonio Sarto claimed that there was never any contract, to begin with; they rebutted any claims of its existence.

Plaintiff attempted to provide proof of a contract being breached. What was presented before the court was some proof that a contract did indeed exist. The attorney for Plaintiff further argued that the Defendants did not properly rebut those findings. To provide proof of a contract, Plaintiff was able to provide testimonies from different individuals who knew about the alleged contract between both parties. Despite these testimonies, I, later on, noticed that the attorney for the Defendants had stronger arguments in justifying their rights to terminate their oral agreement. Before getting into the Defendants’ arguments and defenses, we were presented with testimonies from Marco Bonelli.

The five elements of a contract were somewhat illustrated in this case, which made it easier to understand what was going on. Bonelli testified that he would assist Enrico Sarto with marketing their brand in exchange for an exclusive distributorship. He further testified that Sarto had indeed accepted this offer. Both Enrico Sarto and Antonio Sarto both testified that they never accepted any

agreement granting the Plaintiff an exclusive distributorship. To prove this statement, the Defendants pointed out that the agreements that were drafted and exchanged between the parties made no mention whatsoever of a prior oral agreement involving a contract. They indicated that it essentially meant that the terms of the agreement were still being decided. At this point, it was hard to say if there was an offer and acceptance in this case. Bonelli further testified that there was not quite a set date to terminate the apparent oral agreement; he stated that either party could end their relationship if the business would fail to produce results in terms of generating income for the products. Essentially, the agreement could be terminated if the business itself was unsuccessful. Bonelli claimed that a decision to terminate the relationship would be based on results within the early stages of the business. The Defendants proceeded to argue that Plaintiff’s promise to assist with the brand was not quite specific for an agreement. They did present evidence that proved that they were justified in terminating the oral agreement.

The court discovered evidence that the business was indeed unsuccessful. Another testimony was provided by an individual named Flavia Canal who claimed that the business was not in any way profitable during the time in which the parties had worked together. From my perspective, at that point in the case, I believed that it was obvious that the business relationship failed to work out, which resulted in the justification in the termination of the oral agreement. The Defendants had excellent arguments in elaborating on why the business relationship could not work and why the oral agreement was therefore rightfully terminated. We also learned that Plaintiff had attempted to take credit for the Defendants’ work; the court had discovered evidence of this as well. Plaintiff then argued that Enrico Sarto had the authority to enter into the oral agreement, but Sarto had testified that he never did. It was stated by the Defendants that they did not agree that Plaintiff was entitled to damages; essentially, any money lost by Plaintiff was due to their own discretion. There was no promise to reimburse any money spent towards the brand.

After hearing from testimonies, arguments, and much more, the court reached a conclusion that there was in fact, no oral agreement between both parties, based on evidence and what was argued in the courtroom. Plaintiff’s motion for damages was also denied. For the most part that I was there, I had a sense of where the case would be going and how it might end based on what I heard from those who were present from both parties. The case itself was very lengthy, but it was definitely interesting and informative on different aspects of what I had learned in regards to what occurs in a courtroom. In regards to the result of the case, I was not surprised and had somewhat of an idea of what would happen.

In regards to the proceedings, I was a bit pessimistic heading into the courtroom for this assignment, only because I thought that the case itself wouldn’t be interesting. Obviously, I was wrong about that; I enjoyed most parts of the case and had a pleasant time there. I tried my best to get as many details as possible, though, I would like to think that I was very observant of everything that was going on. I very much agree with the process that was used in this case. From hearing both parties to seeing how the judge was involved, it was quite a long process, but it was very informative nonetheless. I believe that the decision was the correct one; as I stated before, I had a feeling of where this case was going and how it would conclude. It just seemed to me that the Defendants had stronger arguments and evidence that solidified their defense to the Plaintiff’s claims. Mainly the testimonies were good enough to help me assume the result of the case. What I learned previously in other classes helped me to get a better understanding of what was going on in the courtroom; I was already familiar with contracts and their elements. Throughout the entirety of this case, I noticed that the court was going over each of them one by one. The case itself was a great example for me to comprehend how contracts work and what happens if a problem arises. This was definitely a great learning experience for me, and one that will for sure guide me in the future once I hopefully get into the legal field.   

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