Evidence is Everything
Show Cause hearings are very evidentiary based. You must be able to show the judge the ways in which the opposing party has not complied with the order currently in place. If the other side has not complied with the order, they will be found guilty.
A Show Cause hearing looks like a trial, but it does not have to be a stressful experience. The evidence will be presented to the judge and each side will have an opportunity to explain the situation.
Show Cause Hearings in Virginia are Structured
The first thing the judge will do will be to swear in the witnesses (anyone who will be testifying in court). He will then ask for opening statements. An opening statement is optional. It outlines the case for the judge and lets him know what pieces of evidence and testimony will be most important. If the parties choose to make opening statements, the party who brought the case before the court (the plaintiff) will go first.
After opening statements, the plaintiff will put on their case. Witnesses will be called and any evidence that can show non-compliance of the defendant will be presented to the court. The plaintiff’s attorney will ask questions of the plaintiff and any witnesses they have brought. This is the plaintiff’s opportunity to explain to the judge what has or hasn’t happened since the order was put in place. After each witness testifies, the defendant’s attorney will be allowed to ask his or her own questions.
When the plaintiff has finished presenting their case, it is the defendant’s turn. Just as the plaintiff presented their case to the court, the defendant will have an opportunity to do the same. The defendant and any witnesses will testify and the plaintiff’s attorney may ask them questions when they have finished.
Once each side has presented their case, the judge will ask for closing statements. A closing statement is an opportunity to summarize the case for the judge and to make a final argument as to why the judge should rule in your favor.
Be Organized and Prepared
In a Show Cause hearing, organization is key. Judges are extremely busy and have many cases on their dockets. They are less than thrilled when a case comes back in front of them because someone hasn’t been following the rules. If you have your evidence and exhibits clearly labeled and organized, you can present them to the judge quickly and efficiently. Efficiency is always appreciated.