Thomas F. Burke has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in trials and appeals in state and federal court in cases related to securities investments, futures investments, and corporate matters.

Litigation begins with a civil lawsuit filed in a state or federal court seeking monetary damages and/or equitable relief. The process of litigation is governed by the rules of the particular jurisdiction where the lawsuit is filed. The party bringing the lawsuit, the plaintiff, files a complaint that must be served on the other party, the defendant, who then must respond to the complaint by filing an answer or a motion to address issues pertaining to the case.

If the plaintiff's case survives all challenges to it at this early stage, then the parties conduct “discovery”, by requesting documents and information from the other side or from a third party via a subpeona. Most cases involve taking “depositions”, whereby the attorney for one of the parties asks questions of a witness or potential witness which are transcribed by a court reporter to create a record.

If the case survives motions after discovery has been conducted, then the parties will proceed to trial. There are two kinds of trials, a bench trial in which the judge presides over the case and makes a determination of liability between the parties or a jury trial, in which the judge presides over the case but individuals who listen to the evidence presented by the parties will make a determination of liability between the parties.

There can be post-trial motions and/or the trial decision may be appealed for various reasons. The appellate court, whether in state court or federal court, will review the record of the proceedings to determine if the trial court conducted the proceedings correctly. Parties may attempt to appeal a state appellate court decision to the state supreme court and if unsuccessful, it can petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Parties that wish to appeal a federal appellate court decision may petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

After all avenues for appeal have been exhausted, and if the losing party fails to abide by the decision, then post-trial proceedings may ensue.

If you need advice on the law relating to litigation, contact Thomas F. Burke, P.C. at 312/362-1300 or by email at