When a trial is held, whether, before a judge or a jury, it is the one time the parties get the opportunity to present their case. You must ensure that all of your evidence gets offered and hopefully admitted—you will likely never get a second chance to present it again.
When preparing for trial, plan ahead of time and make an exhaustive list of all facts and documents and witnesses that support your case. Get these to your attorney to help him or her make the best case you can. The judge may refuse to allow certain evidence, but do not simply let it go without offering it into the evidence. Make your case to the judge, in a respectable manner, as to what your evidence is and why your evidence should be admitted at trial to support the relief you are seeking from the court. This is called making a record.
Making a record is critical in the event you lose one or more issues in your case. You have the right to an Appeal any final order, as well as other potential options for correcting an error under the Trial Rules. However, these rules are extremely strict, especially those related to Appellate Procedure. The Court of Appeals will not consider any evidence or information that was not presented at trial, or at least offered to be rejected by the judge. Ultimately, the record is limited to what happened at trial. If you did not make a record, you have waived the right to present the omitted evidence to the Court of Appeals.
Sometimes, your trial will not be set for a sufficient amount of time for all parties to present the evidence they wish to be considered because trials are dynamic and sometimes take longer than expected. In this case, you may find yourself in a position where the proceedings are being rushed, or evidence is cut off due to time limitations. Many litigants do not necessarily care at the time and take steps to seek more days or hours of court because they want to be out of court and done. But be aware of the consequences if you lose or the other side appeals. If the key evidence is omitted, it might as well not exist.
The prudent litigant makes a record with the trial court that you have additional evidence to present and requests more time. If you do not preserve this issue of insufficient time to complete the case or rush through it, the Court of Appeals will have no way of knowing what evidence was not offered based on time restrictions, which is essential to the Appellate process. This is why it is equally important to point out all evidence to your counsel. It has to be in the trial record. Thus, where cases are not clear cut, it is important to try the case to the trial court with an appeal in mind. Make the record—get all of the relevant and material evidence offered into the record.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle trials and appeals throughout Indiana. We hope you find this information on making a record at trial helpful in your understanding of how your trial affects your ability to correct any errors made in the final order and any subsequent appeal. This blog post is written for informational purposes and is not a solicitation for specific legal advice. It is advertising material.