The law never takes a break — even during a pandemic. Whether it’s a dispute over rent, a broken contract or a mask mandate, the last few months have challenged what the average person knows about the legal system.
Attorney Tanya Acker is known as one of the judges on the hit show Hot Bench, and in her new book, Make Your Case: Finding Your Win in Civil Court, she helps readers decide whether or not it’s worth it to file a lawsuit.
“I don't care if you're suing over $10 million or a hundred. If you feel like you've been wronged, you want some justice,” Acker tells Yahoo Life. “Sometimes it seems like court is the best way of getting someone's attention and unfortunately, sometimes it is. It's always good to try to work it out. Court is, in my view...really a last resort.”
Knowing when or how to make your case is presented in the book, which gives readers insight into how the courts work. Acker also provides priceless tips for finding a lawyer, gathering evidence, and even avoiding legal action altogether.
If you do decide to take your case to court, due process means that everyone has a fair opportunity to make their case and build a defense. This means that court proceedings make take longer than you expected, something Acker reminds readers to be aware of.
“Time means money,” Acker warns.
Acker also urges people to come to court prepared if they want to reach a fair verdict.
“Don't just show up with some secondary evidence. You want a document, you want a piece of paper,” Acker advises. “We have certain constitutional guarantees that we are going to be treated fairly and objectively, and that's really what the evidence is about.”
On Hot Bench, Acker sees all sorts of cases affecting real people. She says this relatability is why the show has been a fan favorite for seven seasons.
“Not only are they seeing a problem that they can relate to be solved, but they're also understanding and getting some insight into the decision-making behind the solution, “ says Acker.
While Acker adjudicates over small claims court, most of the nation’s attention has been turned to the highest court in the land — the Supreme Court. The nomination and possible confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is now in the hands of U.S. Senators, but Acker reminds Americans that showing up to the polls in November can also make a huge impact on the courts.
“Right now it seems uncertain what, necessarily, is going to happen with judge Barrett's nomination, but there will be other Supreme Court vacancies. If this one is filled, there will be other ones,” Acker says.
“It will be the president for whom you vote who picks that candidate. It will be the senators for whom you vote who determine whether or not that judicial candidate goes to the court. So, even though we as citizens don't have a direct vote in terms of who sits on the high court, we have many, many ways of holding the process accountable.”
The hit court series HOT BENCH airs in national syndication. (Please check your local listings)
Video produced by Stacy Jackman
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