Trials are usually scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. You will receive a notice setting forth the date and time. The notice will usually be sent out at least two (2) weeks prior to the trial date. The notice will include a sheet, “Rules & Information Pertaining To Trials,” providing you with information on subpoenaing witnesses, requesting an adjournment (rescheduling) of the trial date, changing your plea prior to the trial date, and the consequences of not appearing for trial.
At the trial the city (plaintiff) will be represented by the City Attorney. You, the defendant, may hire an attorney to represent you at your expense. The vast number of defendants who go to trial in Municipal Courts do not hire an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, the judge will guide you through the process and protect your rights.
The city is burdened to prove your guilt, not beyond a reasonable doubt – which is the standard in criminal cases – but by “evidence that is clear, is satisfactory, and convinces the judge to a reasonable certainty.” It is not a light burden, though not as heavy a burden as is required in criminal cases.
The city will try to meet its burden of proof by calling witnesses to the stand and directing questions to them designed to prompt testimony that will evidence why you should be found guilty. You have the right to cross-exam (question) every witness that the city calls. The city might also call you to the stand to testify, as part of its case. If that happens, you will still be able to testify on your own.
When the city rests its case, you will have the right to testify yourself and call any witnesses that you might bring into court or that the city has brought into court. The city has the right to cross-exam you and any witness you bring, the same as you have with respect to any witness called by the city. When all the evidence is in, the City Attorney and you will be allowed to argue in support of your respective positions, and the judge will then issue a decision.
If you do not agree with the judge’s decision, you have the right to appeal.