United States Law/Civil Procedure

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Contents

Introduction to Civil Procedure[edit]

Objective[edit]

  • Learn what is Civil Procedure, what you’ll study, and why it’s an important and interesting course
  • Learn the course goals and objectives
  • Learn the course policies and procedures
  • Learn about the scope and purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by studying Rule 1 of the FRCP

What’s Civil Procedure?[edit]

  • CIVIL (not criminal)
  • PROCEDURE (not substantive)

Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases[edit]

 Criminal cases are brought by the gov’t representing society  Criminal cases result in punishment (usually fine or imprisonment)  Civil cases can be between private parties and/or the government  Civil remedies include financial compensation (damages) or orders to do or stop doing something (injunctions) and sometimes punishment (punitive damages)  Different burdens of proof

SUBSTANTIVE LAWS[edit]

 Substantive laws (e.g. tort, contract, property) “are the part of the law that creates,defines, and regulates the rights, duties, and powers of parties” (Black’s Law Dictionary (7th ed. 1999)  Example: tort law (trespass) says that an uninvited guest cannot intrude on another person’s land Definition of Procedure (from Merriam-Webster online)  1(a) a particular way of accomplishing something or of acting (b) a step in a procedure  2 (a) a series of steps followed in a regular definite order <legal procedure>  3 (a) a traditional or established way of doing things

PROCEDURAL LAWS[edit]

 Procedural laws are “[t]he rules that prescribe the steps for having a right or duty judicially enforced, as opposed to the law that defines the specific rights or duties themselves.”  Thus, they are the rules that govern litigation. They are the rules that the parties must follow as they bring their case and also the rules for the court administration of the case  Examples: who can bring case, which court can hear a case, enforcement Difference Between Substantive and Procedural Law Can Be Unclear  Some rules that seem procedural have been deemed substantive by courts, such as statutes of limitations.


Why is Procedure Important in Law?[edit]

 The purpose of civil procedure is to promote the JUST, SPEEDY, and INEXPENSIVE resolution of CIVIL DISPUTES  See Rule 1 of the Fed. R. Civ. P.

What Kinds of Procedures Do Courts and Other Dispute Resolution Bodies Need?[edit]

What Kinds of Procedures Do Courts and Other Dispute Resolution Bodies Need? These include:  Rules for jurisdiction (over defendant, over subject matter)  Rules for how disputes enter the court system  Rules for how what’s in actually in dispute is determined (pleading)  Rules for how disputes progress through the court (or tribunal) system  Rules for pretrial fact investigation (discovery)  Rules for how disputes are terminated (jury verdict? judge’s order? before trial? after trial?)

Sources of Procedure[edit]

 Legislation  Rules promulgated by the courts (include federal rules of general application such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure; local rules for individual courts; judge’s rules; statutory rules in U.S. Code; state rules (in states’s statutes and/or as supplemental rules)  Cases that interpret the rules

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure[edit]

 Originally promulgated by U.S.Supreme Court in 1937 under authority of Rules Enabling Act of 1934  Original rules effective in 1938 and have been amended many times.  Advisory Committee on Civil Rules recommends amendments to FRCP

Federal Rulemaking: FRCP[edit]

 If Advisory Committee initially recommends changes, there is a public comment period/public hearings. If AC then approves, goes to Judicial Conference Standing Committee. If SC approves, goes to Judicial Conference. If JC approves, goes to U.S. Supreme Court.  After Supreme Court prescribes amendment, Congress has a statutory time period to enact legislation to reject, modify, defer amendment.

SCOPE of the FRCP[edit]

 Where do these rules apply?

SCOPE of the FRCP[edit]

 Where do these rules apply?  Federal district courts  Exceptions in Rule 81 include bankruptcy proceedings to extent provided by Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, where prize proceedings in admiralty, certain statutory review procedures like reviewing orders of Secretary of Agriculture, proceedings to enforce orders of National Labor Relations Board


SCOPE OF FRCP[edit]

 In some circumstances, FRCP supplements statutory procedural scheme  What are some examples? Habeas corpus proceedings, quo warranto proceedings, admission to citizenship proceedings, arbitration proceedings, proceedings for enforcement/review under Longshoreman’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

The U.S. Court System[edit]

 Separate STATE and FEDERAL court systems  Each STATE and D.C. has its own court system

How Will We Learn Civil Procedure?[edit]

 Using sample case files (in CB) as study tools, we’ll follow the path of a federal civil action from its beginning through trial, verdict, and enforcement of judgment  We’ll read important Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and important statutory provisions and, sometimes, state rules  We’ll read important court decisions (interpretation of rules/court-made doctrine)  We’ll apply rules and cases to hypothetical practice problems, like those in Glannon

What topics will we study? See Assignments List[edit]

 1. Introductory unit  2. Pleading  3. Joinder  4. Discovery  5. Right to Jury Trial, Jury Selection6. Bypassing the jury: other types of adjudication  6. Verdicts, Judgments and Bypassing the Trier of Fact  7. Jurisdiction and venue  8. Preclusion  9. Wrapping Things Up: Forum non conveniens, Erie doctrine, review


Course Objectives/Goals[edit]

 Learn important civil procedure concepts  Learn the procedural steps of a civil action in federal district court  Develop effective learning techniques, including briefing cases and understanding rules  Develop exam-taking and oral presentation skills  HAVE FUN WHILE LEARNING!

Introduction to Civil Procedure[edit]

WHAT WILL WE COVER TODAY?[edit]

• Wrap-up of important points from last class • Study tips for preparing for this class and law school in general • The U.S. court system • Important concepts relating to civil procedure

WRAP-UP OF CLASS OF[edit]

• Difference between civil/criminal cases • Difference between procedure/substantive law • Purpose of the FRCP (just, speedy, inexpensive resolution of disputes – see Rule 1) – purpose guides construction • Scope: apply in federal district courts subject to exceptions in R. 81

HOW TO STUDY AND PREPARE FOR CLASS[edit]

• Read assignments carefully and critically • Argue with the reading material • Consider the procedural stage the case has reached • Look up rules/statutes mentioned in cases • Pay attention to the language of rules and statutes • Focus on facts • Bear in mind the historical/political context • Make your own study materials • Be patient and determined

The U.S. Court System[edit]

• Separate STATE and FEDERAL court systems • Each STATE and D.C. has its own court system

THE FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM[edit]

• Article III of the U.S. Constitution establishes a separate judicial branch of the federal government. What are the other two branches? • Art. III provides for the U.S. Supreme Court • Pursuant to Art. III, Congress created several federal courts: • Federal District Courts: Trial courts • U.S. Court of Appeals: Appellate Courts • U.S. Supreme Court • Independence of the Federal Judiciary • Life tenure • Compensation

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURTS[edit]

• How many federal judicial districts are there in Maryland? • How many in Virginia? • How many total?

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURTS[edit]

• How many federal judicial districts are there in Maryland? 1 - District of Maryland • How many in Virginia? 2 - Eastern District of Virginia, Western District of Virginia • How many total? 94 (including outside 50 states Guam, P.R., V.I., D.C., Northern Mariana Islands). See 28 U.S. C. s. 133 • Why do we care about judicial districts?

Federal Appellate Courts[edit]

• Federal Circuits • United States Courts of Appeals • How many federal circuits are there? • What circuit is Virginia in? • What circuit is Maryland in? • What about D.C.?

Federal Circuits[edit]

• How many federal circuits are there? Thirteen - twelve regional plus the Federal Circuit • What circuit is Virginia in? Fourth Circuit • What circuit is Maryland in? Fourth Circuit • What about D.C.? District of Columbia Circuit • For a map of the federal circuits, please see: http://www.uscourts.gov/file/18039/download

United States Supreme Court[edit]

• How many Supreme Court justices are there? • Who are the current justices? • Which president appointed each justice?

Current U.S. Supreme Court Justices[edit]

• Roberts C.J. (Bush II) • Stevens J. (Ford) • Alito J. (Bush II) • Scalia J. (Reagan) • Kennedy J. (Reagan) • Souter J. (Bush) • Thomas J. (Bush) • Ginsburg J. (Clinton) • Breyer J. (Clinton) • See http://www.supremecourtus.gov

Civil Procedure Concepts[edit]

• A hypothetical from a real case • Vosberg v. Putney, 50 NW 403 (Wis. 1891) • What does the citation tell us about the court?

VOSBERG HYPOTHETICAL[edit]

• Assume that you’ve just passed the bar exam and you’re sitting in your law office • Mr and Mrs Vosberg, the parents of a junior high school student, Andrew, need your legal assistance.

The Vosberg’s Story[edit]

• “Our son Andrew was in class at school, sitting at his desk and minding his own business. Another student, George Putney, was sitting across the aisle from Andrew. George was gangly with long legs and pointy feet. George stretched those long legs and in doing so, kicked Andrew in the right shin.” Andrew’s injuries (according to the Vosbergs) • Immediately after the accident, Andrew felt EXCRUCIATING pain in his shin and right leg, and started to scream in pain.

• Andrew has been treated by several doctors. For reasons not entirely clear, the injury caused a full-blown medical disaster. Andrew can’t use, and is likely to remain unable to use, his right leg. Comments by George’s Parents to the Vosbergs • Mrs Putney: “George never meant to hurt Andrew. Any harm to Andrew was an accident.”

• Mr Putney: “Andrew’s making it all up. He wasn’t hurt at all. Why don’t you just get lost, Buck-o. Tell Andrew to stop his pathetic whimpering sniveling drivel and go back to school!” Assume the following: • 1. There is no such thing as a court system • 2. The Vosbergs did not take kindly to Mr. Putney’s remarks and want to do something about it. • WHAT CAN THE VOSBERGS DO?

WHAT CAN THE VOSBERGS DO?[edit]

• Resort to violence? • Give up in despair? • Try to get a friend to mediate? • Persuade the school administration to expel or suspend George?

Fortunately, we have a court system![edit]

• The court system is one of our branches of government (the judicial branch) • This course relates to procedures in the court system, specifically the CIVIL SYSTEM

The Rules of Procedure[edit]

• For a court system, these rules govern how disputes enter and progress through the court system. • DO PROCEDURAL RULES TELL US WHO WILL WIN THE DISPUTE BETWEEN THE VOSBERGS AND THE PUTNEYS?

Significant Concept: Difference between Procedural/Substantive Law[edit]

• Do procedural rules tell us who will win the Vosberg-Putney dispute? • No – SUBSTANTIVE LAW (e.g. tort) tells us who wins (liability) and what the winner gets (remedies) • Procedure can’t exist independently of substantive law

Significant Concept: Difference Between Civil/Criminal Cases[edit]

• If Andrew’s case was classified as criminal, who would be the moving party? • What would be the main objective of the criminal action? • What if Andrew’s case is classified as civil? Why Might the Vosbergs Want to Bring a Civil Case? Why Might the Vosbergs Want to Bring a Civil Case? • $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

• Criminal law will not compensate the Vosbergs, but would only punish George

Concept: Remedies[edit]

• What civil remedies would the plaintiffs seek in Vosberg?

Common Civil Remedies[edit]

• Damages (financial compensation) • Injunction (order to do or stop doing something)

Reminder: Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases[edit]

• Criminal cases are brought by the gov’t representing society • Criminal cases result in punishment (e.g., fine or imprisonment) • Civil cases can be between private parties and/or the government • Civil remedies include financial compensation (damages) or orders to do or stop doing something (injunctions) and sometimes punishment (punitive damages) • Different burdens of proof

Significant Concept: Parties[edit]

• In the Vosberg’s case, who would be the PLAINTIFF(S)? • The DEFENDANT(s)? • We will study JOINDER rules for adding additional parties or claims to a civil lawsuit • Which party pays ATTORNEY’S FEES? • What is a CONTINGENCY FEE?

Significant Concept: Jurisdiction[edit]

• Personal Jurisdiction • Subject matter jurisdiction

Subject Matter Jurisdiction[edit]

• Not every court can hear every type of case • Federal district courts have limited subject matter jurisdiction • Two important types of subject matter jurisdiction: – (1) diversity (2) federal question jurisdiction • State courts- some have GENERAL jurisdiction, some have LIMITED jurisdiction (e.g. tax courts, housing courts) Personal Jurisdiction • The defendant must have sufficient MINIMUM CONTACTS with the state where the court is located that it would be FAIR to subject her to suit there. • DUE PROCESS: 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution The significant concepts we studied today • 1. Difference between civil and criminal actions • 2. Difference between procedural and substantive law • 3. Remedies • 4. Parties • 5 Jurisdiction

Have a nice evening![edit]

• See you Friday • We will cover The Stages and Essential Concepts of Civil Litigation


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as restyled[edit]

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Fed.R.Civ.P.) were restyled into plain English and promulgated December 1, 2007.[1]

The Theory of Civil Procedure Law in United States federal law[2][edit]

Constitutional Predicate[edit]

Article III, Article IV and Amendment XIV of the United States Constitution.

Personal Jurisdiction[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. "Slip Opinions", Washington University in St. Louis Law Review, October 20, 2008.
  2. This outline is entirely the intellectual product of the author of this Wikiversity article and all copyright protections to the fullest extent of the law wherein this originates, the United States of America, and the situs jurisdiction of the viewer/user.