|Civil Procedure in the U.S.|
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In American law, a lawsuit is a civil action brought before a court in which the party commencing the action, the plaintiff, seeks a legal or equitable remedy. Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that Courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a " Civil action " as opposed to The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP are rules governing Civil procedure in United States district (federal courts that is court procedures for Civil Civil procedure doctrines are rules developed by Case law as opposed to being set down in Codes or Legislation, which together with Court In Law, jurisdiction (from the Latin ius iuris meaning "law" and dicere meaning "to speak" is the practical Authority Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a Court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter In United States law, diversity jurisdiction is a concept used in Civil procedure to refer to the situation in which a U Personal jurisdiction in United States law refers to a court's power over a particular defendant ( In personam jurisdiction or an item of property In the United States, removal jurisdiction refers to the right of a Defendant to move a Lawsuit filed in state Court to the Federal district Venue is the location where a case is heard In the United States, the venue is either a county (for cases in state court or a district or division (for cases in federal court A change of venue is the Legal term for moving a trial to a new location In Law as practiced in countries that follow the English model a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a Court by parties in a Civil action A legal motion is a procedural device in Law to bring a limited contested matter before a Court for decision Service of process is the procedure employed to give Legal notice to a person (such as a defendant of a Court or administrative body's exercise of In general use a complaint is an expression of displeasure such as poor service at a store or from a Local government, etc In the law a cause of action (sometimes called a claim) is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue A Case Information Statement (or Cover Sheet) is a document which is filed with a Court clerk at the commencement of a civil Lawsuit in many In Law, a class action or a representative action is a form of Lawsuit where a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court The US Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 USC Sections 1332(d 1453 and 1711-1715 expanded federal jurisdiction over many large Class-action A demurrer is a legal Pleading filed by a party defending against claims or defenses in a lawsuit An answer was originally a solemn assertion in opposition to some one or something and thus generally any counter-statement or defense a reply to a question or objection or a correct solution An affirmative defense is a category of defense used in Litigation between private parties in Common law Jurisdictions, or more familiarly The reply is a response by Plaintiff to Defendant 's Answer. A reply occurs only when defendant has asserted a counterclaim or the court has ordered A counterclaim is made by the Defendant to a civil proceeding, in a main action against the Plaintiff or against the plaintiff and other people A cross-claim is a claim brought against a co-party in the same side of a lawsuit Criminal law Joinder in Criminal law is a legal term which refers to the inclusion of additional Counts or additional Defendants on an Impleader is a procedural device before trial in which one party joins a third Party into a lawsuit because that third party is Liable to an original Interpleader is a form of action originally developed under equity jurisprudence In law intervention is a procedure to allow nonparties to join ongoing Litigation, either as a matter of right or at the discretion of the court without the permission In Law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a Lawsuit in which each party through the law of Civil procedure can request documents and other evidence In Law, interrogatories (also known as Requests for Further Information are a formal set of written questions propounded by one Litigant and required to be answered In Law, a deposition is witness testimony given under oath and recorded for use in court at a later date Default judgment is a binding Judgment in favor of the Plaintiff when the Defendant has not responded to a Summons or has failed to appear before For the simplification and shortening of a longer text see Summary. Voluntary dismissal is when a law suit is terminated by request of the Plaintiff (the party originally bringing the suit to court Involuntary dismissal is the termination of a court case despite the Plaintiff 's objection For other uses of settlement including legal uses see Settlement. A party is a Person or group of persons that compose a single Entity which can be identified as one for the purposes of the Law. A plaintiff ( Π in Legal shorthand) also known as a claimant or complainant, is the party who initiates a Lawsuit A defendant or defender ( Δ in Legal shorthand) is any party who is required to answer the Complaint of a Plaintiff A jury a sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial Verdict (a finding of fact on a question officially submitted to them Voir dire (IPA /vwɑr dir/ is a phrase in Law which derives from Anglo-Norman. Burden of proof (onus probandi is the obligation to prove Allegations which are presented in a Legal action. A judgment (see spelling note below in a Legal context is synonymous with the formal decision made by a Court following a Lawsuit. Judgment as a matter of law (JMOL is a motion made by a party during trial claiming the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case Renewed judgment as a matter of law (JMOL is the partner of Judgment as a matter of law in American federal courts Judgment notwithstanding the verdict, also called judgment non obstante veredicto or JNOV) is a type of Judgment as a matter of law (JMOL that In Law, a motion to set aside judgment is an application to overturn or set aside a Court 's Judgment, Verdict or other final ruling in a case In Law, the expression trial de novo means a "new trial " by a different tribunal ( de novo is a Latin expression meaning 'afresh' 'anew' A legal remedy (also judicial relief) is the means a Court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction enforces a Right, imposes An injunction is an Equitable remedy in the form of a Court order, whereby a party is required to do or interact with in certain ways all right or to refrain from In Law, damages refers to the money paid or awarded to a Claimant (England Pursuer (Scotland or Plaintiff (US following a successful Attorney fees (note that the use of the word 'attorney' connotes lawyers broadly solicitors and barristers are the costs of legal representation that an attorney's client or a party In the field of Law and economics, the American Rule is a rule regarding assessment of Attorneys' fees arising out of Litigation. In the field of Law and economics, the English Rule is a rule regarding assessment of Attorneys' fees arising out of Litigation. A declaratory judgment is a Judgment of a Court in a Civil case which declares the rights duties or obligations of each party in a Dispute. In Law, an appeal is a process for requesting a formal change to an official decision A writ of mandamus or simply mandamus, which means "we command" in Latin, is the name of one of the Prerogative writs in the Common Certiorari (ˌsɚʃioʊ('rɛri 'rɑri is a legal term in Roman, English, Philippine and American law referring to a type of Writ A court is a forum used by a power base to adjudicate disputes and dispense civil, labour administrative and criminal Justice under its A plaintiff ( Π in Legal shorthand) also known as a claimant or complainant, is the party who initiates a Lawsuit One or more defendants are required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. A defendant or defender ( Δ in Legal shorthand) is any party who is required to answer the Complaint of a Plaintiff A plaintiff ( Π in Legal shorthand) also known as a claimant or complainant, is the party who initiates a Lawsuit If the plaintiff is successful, judgment will be given in the plaintiff's favor, and a range of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose an injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. In non-legal contexts a judgment is a balanced weighing up of evidence preparatory to making a decision A court order (or court ruling) is an official proclamation by a Judge (or panel of judges that defines the legal relationships between the parties to a hearing A right is a legal or moral Entitlement or Permission. Rights are of vital importance in theories of Justice and deontological ethics In Law, damages refers to the money paid or awarded to a Claimant (England Pursuer (Scotland or Plaintiff (US following a successful An injunction is an Equitable remedy in the form of a Court order, whereby a party is required to do or interact with in certain ways all right or to refrain from A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes. A declaratory judgment is a Judgment of a Court in a Civil case which declares the rights duties or obligations of each party in a Dispute. A legal case is a dispute between opposing parties resolved by a Court, or by some equivalent legal process
A lawsuit may involve dispute resolution of private law issues between individuals, business entities or non-profit organizations. Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties. Private law (Civil law is that part of a Legal system that involves relationships between individuals As commonly used, individual refers to a Person or to any specific object in a collection A business (also called firm or an enterprise) is a legally recognized organizational entity designed to provide goods and/or services to A non-profit organization ( abbreviated "NPO" also "not-for-profit" is a legally constituted Organization whose objective is to support or engage A lawsuit may also enable the government to be treated as if it were a private party in a civil case, as plaintiff or defendant regarding an injury, or may provide the government with a civil cause of action to enforce certain laws. For the government of parliamentary systems see Executive (government.
The conduct of a lawsuit is called litigation.
Rules of criminal or civil procedure govern the conduct of a lawsuit in the common law adversarial system of dispute resolution. Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that Courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a " Civil action " as opposed to Common law refers to law and the corresponding legal system developed through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive The adversarial system (or adversary system) of law is the system of law generally adopted in Common law countries that relies on the skill of each advocate Procedural rules are additionally constrained/informed by separate statutory laws, case law, and constitutional provisions that define the rights of the parties to a lawsuit (see especially due process), though the rules will generally reflect this legal context on their face. Due process (more fully due process of law) is the principle that a person has a right to receive notice and be heard in an orderly proceeding in order to protect his or her The details of procedure will differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and often from court to court within the same jurisdiction. The rules are very important for litigants to know, however, because they dictate the timing and progression of the lawsuit — what may be filed and when to get what result. Failure to comply with the procedural rules can result in serious limitations in conducting the trial or even dismissal of the lawsuit.
Though the majority of lawsuits are settled and never even get to trial, they can expand into a very complicated process. This is particularly true in federal systems, where a federal court may be applying state law (e. Political federalism is a Political philosophy in which a group of members are bound together (Latin foedus, covenant) with a governing g. , the Erie doctrine in the United States) or vice versa, or one state applying the law of another, and where it additionally may not be clear which level (or location) of court actually has jurisdiction over the claim or personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The Erie Doctrine provides that a federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction over a state law claim must apply state substantive common law in resolving the dispute The United States of America —commonly referred to as the In Law, jurisdiction (from the Latin ius iuris meaning "law" and dicere meaning "to speak" is the practical Authority Personal jurisdiction in United States law refers to a court's power over a particular defendant ( In personam jurisdiction or an item of property Domestic courts are also often called upon to apply foreign law, or to act upon foreign defendants, over whom they may not, as a practical matter, even have the ability to enforce a judgment if the defendant's assets are outside their reach.
Lawsuits become additionally complicated as more parties become involved (see joinder). Criminal law Joinder in Criminal law is a legal term which refers to the inclusion of additional Counts or additional Defendants on an Within a "single" lawsuit, there can be any number of claims and defenses (all based on numerous laws) between any number of plaintiffs or defendants, who each can bring any number of cross-claims and counterclaims against each other, and even bring additional parties into the suit on either side after it progresses. However, courts typically have some power to separate out claims and parties into separate suits if it is more efficient to do so, such as if there is not a sufficient overlap of factual issues between the various claims.
The following is a generalized description of how a lawsuit may proceed in a common law jurisdiction:
A lawsuit begins in federal courts when a complaint is filed with the district court clerk. In Law as practiced in countries that follow the English model a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a Court by parties in a Civil action This complaint will state that one or more plaintiffs is seeking damages or equitable relief from one or more stated defendants, and will identify the legal and factual bases for doing so. Equity is the name given to the set of legal principles in jurisdictions following the English common law tradition which supplement strict rules of law where The clerk of a court signs a summons, which is then served by the plaintiff upon the defendant, together with a copy of the complaint. A summons (also in Britain known as a claim form) is a legal document issued by a court (a judicial summons) or by an administrative agency of government (an Service of process is the procedure employed to give Legal notice to a person (such as a defendant of a Court or administrative body's exercise of This service notifies the defendants that they are being sued and that they have a specific time limit to file a response. By providing a copy of the complaint, the service also notifies the defendants of the nature of the claims. Once the defendants are served with the summons and complaint, they have a time limit to file an answer identifying their defenses to the plaintiff's claims, including any challenges to the court's jurisdiction, and any counterclaims they wish to assert against the plaintiff. An answer was originally a solemn assertion in opposition to some one or something and thus generally any counter-statement or defense a reply to a question or objection or a correct solution With the advent of the Internet it has now become possible to register any greivance online, for free at sites like SueEasy. Drastically reducing barriers of entry and red-tape for the common man.
In many state courts, a lawsuit begins when one or more plaintiffs properly serve a summons and complaint upon the defendant(s). In these states, the plaintiffs need not file the complaint with the district court clerk to commence the lawsuit. As in federal court, the defendant(s) will have a specific time limit during which they may file their answer.
If the defendant chooses to file an answer within the time permitted, he must respond to each of the plaintiffs' allegations by admitting the allegation, denying it, or pleading a lack of sufficient information to admit or deny the allegation. At the time he files an answer, the defendant will also raise all "affirmative" defenses he may have. He may also assert any counterclaims for damages or equitable relief against the plaintiff, and in the case of "compulsory counterclaims," must do so or risk having the counterclaim barred in any subsequent proceeding. The defendant may also file a "third party complaint" in which he seeks to join another party or parties in the action if he believes those parties may be liable for some or all of the plaintiff's damages. Filing an answer "joins the cause" and moves the case into the pre-trial phase.
Instead of filing an answer within the time specified in the summons, the defendant can choose to dispute the validity of the complaint by filing one or more motions to dismiss. The motion must be filed within the time period specified in the summons for an answer. If all such motions are denied by the trial court, and the defendant loses on all appeals from such denials (if that option is available), then the defendant must file an answer.
Usually the pleadings are drafted by a lawyer, but in many courts persons can file papers and represent themselves, which is called appearing pro se. In Law as practiced in countries that follow the English model a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a Court by parties in a Civil action A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law as an attorney, Counsel or Solicitor; a person Many courts have a pro se clerk to assist people without lawyers. A pro se clerk is a Clerk of the court, employed by the court and found in the courthouse 
The early stages of the lawsuit may involve initial disclosures of evidence by each party and discovery, which is the ordered exchange of evidence and statements between the parties based on what they each expect to argue during the actual trial. In Law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a Lawsuit in which each party through the law of Civil procedure can request documents and other evidence The Law of evidence governs the use of Testimony (eg oral or written statements such as an Affidavit) and exhibits (e In Law, a deposition is witness testimony given under oath and recorded for use in court at a later date Discovery is meant to eliminate surprises and clarify what the lawsuit is about, and perhaps to make a party realize they should settle or drop the claim, all before wasting court resources. At this point the parties may also engage in pretrial motion filing in order to exclude or include particular legal or factual issues before trial, by blocking the other party from presenting a particular witness or arguing a particular legal theory.
At the close of discovery, the parties may pick a jury and then have a trial by jury. A jury a sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial Verdict (a finding of fact on a question officially submitted to them Or, the case may proceed as a bench trial heard only by the judge, if the parties waive a jury trial, or if the right to a jury trial is not guaranteed for their particular claim (such as those under equity in the U. Equity is the name given to the set of legal principles in jurisdictions following the English common law tradition which supplement strict rules of law where S. ) or for any lawsuits within their jurisdiction.
The lawsuit may then proceed similarly to a criminal trial, with each side presenting witnesses and submitting evidence, at the close of which the judge or jury renders their decision. Generally speaking, the plaintiff has the burden of proof in making his claims, which means that it is up to him to produce enough evidence to persuade the judge or jury that his claim should succeed. Burden of proof (onus probandi is the obligation to prove Allegations which are presented in a Legal action. The defendant may have the burden of proof on other issues, however, such as affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is a category of defense used in Litigation between private parties in Common law Jurisdictions, or more familiarly
There are numerous motions that either party can file throughout the lawsuit to terminate it "prematurely" — before submission to the judge or jury for final consideration. These motions attempt to persuade the judge, through legal argument and sometimes accompanying evidence, that because there is no reasonable way that the other party could legally win, there is no sense in continuing with the trial. Motions for summary judgment, for example, can usually be brought before, after, or during the actual presentation of the case. For the simplification and shortening of a longer text see Summary. Motions can also be brought after the close of a trial to undo a jury verdict that is contrary to law or against the weight of the evidence, or to convince the judge that he should change his decision or grant a new trial.
Also, at any time during this process from the filing of the complaint to the final judgment, the plaintiff may withdraw his complaint and end the whole matter, or the defendant may agree to a settlement, which involves a negotiated award followed also by the plaintiff withdrawing his complaint and the settlement entered into the court record.
After a final decision has been made, either party or both may appeal from the judgment if they are unhappy with it (and their jurisdiction grants the ability). In Law, an appeal is a process for requesting a formal change to an official decision Even the prevailing party may appeal, if, for example, they wanted an even larger award than was granted. The appellate court (which may be structured as an intermediate appellate court and a higher supreme court) will then affirm the judgment, refuse to hear it (which effectively affirms), reverse, or vacate and remand, which involves sending the lawsuit back to the lower trial court to address an unresolved issue, or possibly for a whole new trial. Court of Appeal, Court of Appeals, and Appellate Division redirect here for a list of specific courts using those titles see Court of Appeal A supreme court, also called a court of last resort or high court, is in some Jurisdictions the highest judicial body within that jurisdiction's Some lawsuits go up and down the appeals ladder repeatedly before finally being resolved.
When a final judgment is entered, the plaintiff will likely be barred under res judicata from trying to bring the same or similar claim again against that defendant, or from relitigating any of the issues, even under different legal claims or theories. Res judicata or res iudicata ( Latin for "a matter judged" is in both civil law and Common law legal systems This prevents a new trial of the same case with a different result, or if the plaintiff won, a repeat trial that merely multiplies the judgment against the defendant.
If the judgment is for the plaintiff, then the defendant must comply under penalty of law with the judgment, which will usually be a monetary award. If the defendant fails to pay, the court has various powers to seize any of the defendant's assets located within its jurisdiction, such as:
If all assets are located elsewhere, the plaintiff must file another suit in the appropriate court to seek enforcement of the other court's previous judgment. In Law, a lien is a form of Security interest granted over an item of Property to secure the payment of a Debt or performance of some other A garnishment is a means of collecting a monetary Judgment against a Defendant by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay money otherwise owed to This can be a difficult task when crossing from a court in one state or nation to another, though courts tend to grant each other respect when there is not a clear legal rule to the contrary. A defendant who has no assets in any jurisdiction is said to be "judgment-proof. " The term is generally a colloquialism to describe an impecunious defendant.
Indigent judgment-proof defendants are no longer imprisoned; debtor's prisons have been outlawed by statute, constitutional amendment, or international human rights treaties in the vast majority of common law jurisdictions.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common for lawyers to speak of bringing an "action" at law and a "suit" in equity. Equity is the name given to the set of legal principles in jurisdictions following the English common law tradition which supplement strict rules of law where The fusion of common law and equity in the Judicature Acts of 1873 and 1875 led to the collapse of that distinction, so it became possible to speak of a "lawsuit". The Judicature Acts are two Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 (36 & 37 Vict
In England and Wales the term "claim" is far more common; the person initiating proceedings is called the claimant. History The Roman occupation of Britain was the first period in which the area of present-day England and Wales was administered as a single unit (with the exception A plaintiff ( Π in Legal shorthand) also known as a claimant or complainant, is the party who initiates a Lawsuit
American terminology is slightly different, in that the term "claim" refers only to a particular count (or cause of action) in a lawsuit. Americans also use "claim" to describe a demand filed with an insurer or administrative agency. If the claim is denied, then the claimant (or policyholder or applicant) files a lawsuit with the courts and becomes a plaintiff.
In medieval times, both "action" and "suit" had the approximate meaning of some kind of legal proceeding, but an action terminated when a judgment was rendered, while a suit also included the execution of the judgment.