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Last Modified: November 10, 2021


“Proceeding of relative formality, generally public, with definite issues of fact or of law to be tried, in which parties proceeded against have the right to be heard, and is much the same as a trial and may terminate in final order… Frequently used in a broader and more popular significance to describe whatever takes place… without jury at any stage of the proceedings subsequent to its inception, and may include proceedings before an auditor” (Black’s Law Dictionary). “Any proceeding before a judge or other qualified hearing officer without a jury, in which evidence and argument is presented to determine some issue of fact or both issues of fact and law… A brief court session that resolves a specific question before a full trial takes place” (Nolo’s Law Dictionary).

Example Sentence

Because both parties disputed the amount of damages that the plaintiff had suffered, the judge held a pre-trial hearing to determine the exact amount through expert witnesses.

Case Study

In a Utah Supreme Court case, Mr. Chatterton claimed he had been severely injured in an accident with a Mr. Walker. The judge ruled that the amount of damages he had suffered would be determined in an “evidentiary hearing” (Chatterton v. Walker). So, the lawyers for both parties had a separate meeting with  the judge or an appointed hearing officer, but no jury, to determine how much money in damages Mr. Chatterton had suffered.

Other Important Information

Most hearings concern very specific issues that the trial cannot proceed on until the court determines these facts. Most often, courts hold hearings to determine the amount of damages caused, coverage issues, and unresolved motions made by either party (see WCF v. Argonaut Insurance and Tschaggeny v. Milbank). Lawyers will often call on expert witness to establish the necessary facts unique to this case (see R&R v. Utah Property & Casualty).

Image “All Sizes” copyright by Senator Mccaskill.