In almost every legal proceeding, the parties are required to adhere to important rules known as evidentiary standards and burdens of proof. These rules determine which party is responsible for putting forth enough evidence to either prove or defeat a particular claim and the amount of evidence necessary to accomplish that goal.
The burden of proof determines which party is responsible for putting forth evidence and the level of evidence they must provide in order to prevail on their claim. In most cases, the plaintiff (the party bringing the claim) has the burden of proof.
The burden of proof has two components. First, the plaintiff must satisfy the burden of production, which has also been referred to as the burden of going forward. As the terms suggest, this burden requires the plaintiff to put forth evidence in the form of witness testimony, documents, or objects. After the plaintiff presents his or her case-in-chief, the burden of production shifts to the defendant, who then has the opportunity to provide evidence either rebutting the plaintiff’s evidence or supporting the defendant’s own arguments.