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The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (officially abbreviated Fed. R. Civ. P.; colloquially FRCP) govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has seven months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the FRCP. The Court's modifications to the rules are usually based upon recommendations from the Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal judiciary's internal policy-making body.

Although federal courts are required to apply the substantive law of the states as rules of decision in cases where state law is in question, the federal courts almost always use the FRCP as their rules of civil procedure. States may determine their own rules, which apply in state courts, although 35 of the 50 states have adopted rules that are based on the FRCP.

In addition to notice pleading, a minority of states (e.g., California) use an intermediate system known as code pleading, which is a system older than notice pleading and which is based upon legislative statute. It tends to straddle the gulf between obsolete common-law pleading and modern notice pleading. Code pleading places additional burdens on a party to plead the "ultimate facts" of its case, laying out the party's entire case and the facts or allegations underlying it. Notice pleading, by contrast, simply requires a "short and plain statement" showing only that the pleader is entitled to relief. (FRCP 8(a)(2)). One important exception to this rule is that, when a party alleges fraud, it must plead the facts of the alleged fraud with particularity. (FRCP 9(b)).

History

The Rules, established in 1938, replaced the earlier procedures under the Federal Equity Rules and the Conformity Act (28 USC 724 (1934)) merging the procedure for cases, in law and equity. The Conformity Act required that procedures in suits at law conform to state practice, usually the Field Code or a pleading system based on common law.

Before the FRCP were established, common-law pleading was more formal, traditional, and particular in its phrases and requirements. For example, a plaintiff bringing a trespass suit would have to mention certain key words in his complaint or risk having it dismissed with prejudice. In contrast, the FRCP is based upon a legal construction called notice pleading, which is less formal, is created and modified by legal experts, and is far less technical in requirements. In notice pleading, the same plaintiff bringing suit would not face dismissal for lack of the exact legal term, as long as the claim itself was legally actionable. The policy behind this change is to simply give "notice" of grievances and to leave the details for later in the case. This acts in the interest of equity by concentrating on the actual law rather than the exact construction of pleas.

The Field Code, which was adopted between 1848 and 1850, was an intermediate step between common law and modern rules, created by New York attorney David Dudley Field. The Field Code was partially inspired by civil law systems in Europe and Louisiana, and among other reforms, merged law and equity proceedings.[1]

Significant revisions have been made to the FRCP in 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2006. The FRCP contains a notes section that details the changes of each revision since 1938, explaining the rationale behind the language. The revisions that took effect in December 2006 made practical changes to discovery rules to make it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.

The 1966 amendments to the FRCP unified the civil and admiralty procedure, and added the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, now Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.

The FRCP were re-written with respect to style, effective December 1, 2007, under the leadership of law professor and editor of Black's Law Dictionary Bryan A. Garner, for the avowed purpose of making them easier to understand. The style amendments were not intended to make substantive changes in the rules.[2]

Effective December 1, 2009, substantial amendments were made to rules 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72 and 81. While rules 48 and 62.1 were added. Rule 1(f) was abrogated. The majority of the amendments affect various timing requirements and change how some deadlines are calculated. The most significant changes are to Rule 6.

Titles of Rules

There are 86 rules in the FRCP, which are grouped into 11 titles. Listed below are the most commonly used categories and rules.

Title I – Scope of the FRCP

Rules 1 and 2.

Title I is a sort of "mission statement" for the FRCP; Rule 1 states that the rules "shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action." Rule 2 unifies the procedure of law and equity in the federal courts by specifying that there shall be one form of action, the "civil action."

Title II – Commencement of Suits

Rules 3 to 6.

Title II covers commencement of civil suits and includes filing, summons, and service of process. Rule 3 provides that a civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. Rule 4 deals with procedure for issuance of a summons, when the complaint is filed, and for the service of the summons and complaint on the defendants. Rule 5 requires that all papers in an action be served on all parties and be filed with the court. Rule 6 deals with technical issues, which concern the computation of time, and authorizes the courts to extend certain deadlines in appropriate circumstances.

Title III – Pleadings and Motions

Rules 7 to 16.

Title III covers pleadings, motions, defenses, and counterclaims. The plaintiff's original pleading is called a complaint. The defendant's original pleading is called an answer.

Rule 8(a) sets out the plaintiff's requirements for a claim: a "short and plain statement" of jurisdiction, a "short and plain statement" of the claim, and a demand for judgment. It also allows relief in the alternative, so the plaintiff does not have to pre-guess the remedy most likely to be accepted by the court.

Rule 8(b) states that the defendant's answer must admit or deny every element of the plaintiff's claim.

Rule 8(c) requires that the defendant's answer must state any affirmative defenses.

Rule 8(d) maintains that each allegation be "simple, concise, and direct" but allows "2 or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically." If a party makes alternative statements, the pleading is sufficient if any one of them is sufficient. A party may state inconsistent (even mutually exclusive) claims or defenses.

Rule 10 describes what information should be in the caption (the front page) of a pleading, but does not explain how such information should actually be organized in the caption. The FRCP is notoriously vague on how papers should be formatted. Most of the details missing from the FRCP are to be found in local rules promulgated by each district court and in general orders by each individual federal judge. For example, federal courts in most West Coast states require line numbers on the left margin on all filings (to match local practice in the courts of the states in which they sit), but most other federal courts do not.

Rule 11 requires all papers to be signed by the attorney (if party is represented). It also provides for sanctions against the attorney or client for harassment, frivolous arguments, or a lack of factual investigation. The purpose of sanctions is deterrent, not punitive. Courts have broad discretion about the exact nature of the sanction, which can include consent to in personam jurisdiction, fines, dismissal of claims, or dismissal of the entire case. The current version of Rule 11 is much more lenient than its 1983 version. Supporters of tort reform in Congress regularly call for legislation to make Rule 11 stricter.

Rule state courts, although 35 of the 50 states have adopted rules that are based on the FRCP.

In addition to notice pleading, a minority of states (e.g., California) use an intermediate system known as code pleading, which is a system older than notice pleading and which is based upon legislative statute. It tends to straddle the gulf between obsolete common-law pleading and modern notice pleading. Code pleading places additional burdens on a party to plead the "ultimate facts" of its case, laying out the party's entire case and the facts or allegations underlying it. Notice pleading, by contrast, simply requires a "short and plain statement" showing only that the pleader is entitled to relief. (FRCP 8(a)(2)). One important exception to this rule is that, when a party alleges fraud, it must plead the facts of the alleged fraud with particularity. (FRCP 9(b)).

The Rules, established in 1938, replaced the earlier procedures under the Federal Equity Rules and the Conformity Act (28 USC 724 (1934)) merging the procedure for cases, in law and equity. The Conformity Act required that procedures in suits at law conform to state practice, usually the Field Code or a pleading system based on common law.

Before the FRCP were established, common-law pleading was more formal, traditional, and particular in its phrases and requirements. For example, a plaintiff bringing a trespass suit would have to mention certain key words in his complaint or risk having it dismissed with prejudice. In contrast, the FRCP is based upon a legal construction called notice pleading, which is less formal, is created and modified by legal experts, and is far less technical in requirements. In notice pleading, the same plaintiff bringing suit would not face dismissal for lack of the exact legal term, as long as the claim itself was legally actionable. The policy behind this change is to simply give "notice" of grievances and to leave the details for later in the case. This acts in the interest of equity by concentrating on the actual law rather than the exact construction of pleas.

The Field Code, which was adopted between 1848 and 1850, was an intermediate step between common law and modern rules, created by New York attorney David Dudley Field. The Field Code was partially inspired by civil law systems in Europe and Louisiana, and among other reforms, merged law and equity proceedings.[1]

Significant revisions have been made to the FRCP in 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2006. The FRCP contains a notes section that details the changes of each revision since 1938, explaining the rationale behind the language. The revisions that took effect in December 2006 made practical changes to discovery rules to make it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.

The 1966 amendments to the FRCP unified the civil and admiralty procedure, and added the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, now Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.

The FRCP were re-written with respect to style, effective December 1, 2007, under the leadership of law professor and editor of Black's Law Dictionary Bryan A. Garner, for the avowed purpose of making them easier to understand. The style amendments were not intended to make substantive changes in the rules.[2]

Effective December 1, 2009, substantial amendments were made to rules 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72 and 81. While rules 48 and 62.1 were added. Rule 1(f) was abrogated. The majority of the amendments affect various timing requirements and change how some deadlines are calculated. The most significant changes are to Rule 6.

Titles of Rules

Before the FRCP were established, common-law pleading was more formal, traditional, and particular in its phrases and requirements. For example, a plaintiff bringing a trespass suit would have to mention certain key words in his complaint or risk having it dismissed with prejudice. In contrast, the FRCP is based upon a legal construction called notice pleading, which is less formal, is created and modified by legal experts, and is far less technical in requirements. In notice pleading, the same plaintiff bringing suit would not face dismissal for lack of the exact legal term, as long as the claim itself was legally actionable. The policy behind this change is to simply give "notice" of grievances and to leave the details for later in the case. This acts in the interest of equity by concentrating on the actual law rather than the exact construction of pleas.

The Field Code, which was adopted between 1848 and 1850, was an intermediate step between common law and modern rules, created by New York attorney David Dudley Field. The Field Code was partially inspired by civil law systems in Europe and Louisiana, and among other reforms, merged law and equity proceedings.[1]

Significant revisions have been made to the FRCP in 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2006. The FRCP contains a notes section that details the changes of each revision since 1938, explaining the rationale behind the language. The revisions that took effect in December 2006 made practical changes to discovery rules to make it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.

The 1966 amendments to the FRCP unified the civil and admiralty procedure, and added the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, now Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.

The FRCP were re-written with respect to style, effective December 1, 2007, under the leadership of law professor and editor of Black's Law Dictionary Bryan A. Garner, for the avowed purpose of making them easier to understand. The style amendments were not intended to make substantive changes in the rules.[2]

Effective December 1, 2009, substantial amendments were made to rules 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72 and 81. While rules 48 and 62.1 were added. Rule 1(f) was abrogated. The majority of the amendments affect various timing requirements and change how some deadlines are calculated. The most significant changes are to Rule 6.

There are 86 rules in the FRCP, which are grouped into 11 titles. Listed below are the most commonly used categories and rules.

Title I – Scope of the FRCP

Rules 38 to 53.

Title VI deals generally with the trial of civil actions, although some other topics are also included. Rules 38 and 39 deal with the parties' right to a trial by jury<

Rules 38 to 53.

Title VI deals generally with the trial of civil actions, although some other topics are also included. Rules 38 and 39 deal with the parties' r

Title VI deals generally with the trial of civil actions, although some other topics are also included. Rules 38 and 39 deal with the parties' right to a trial by jury and the procedure for requesting a jury trial instead of a bench trial and trials by an advisory jury. These rules must be construed in light of the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which preserves a right to jury trial in most actions at common law (as opposed to equity cases). Rule 40 deals in general terms with the order in which cases will be scheduled for trial and has little significance in practice.

Rule 41 deals with dismissal of actions. An action may be voluntarily dismissed at any time by the plaintiff prior to the defendant's filing of an Answer or Motion for Summary Judgment.[9] In such an instance, the court retains jurisdiction only to award attorneys fees or costs (in rare circumstances). With certain exceptions (e.g. class actions), an action may also be dismissed at any time by agreement of the parties (e.g. when the parties reach a settlement). An action may also be involuntarily dismissed by the court if the plaintiff fails to comply with deadlines or court orders.

Rule 42 deals with consolidation of related cases or the holding of separate trials. Rule 43 addresses the taking of testimony, which is to be taken in open court whenever possible. Rule 44 governs authentication of official records.

Rule 45 deals with subpoenas. A subpoena commands a person to give testimony, to produce documents for inspection and copying, or both. Although included in the Chapter headed "trials," subpoenas can also be used to obtain document production or depositions of non-parties to the litigation during the pre-trial discovery stage.

Rule 46 provides that formal "exceptions" to court rulings are no longer necessary so long as a sufficient record is made of the objecting party's position.

The next several rules govern jury trials. Rule 47 provides for the selection of jurors and rule 48 governs the number of jurors in a civil case. A civil jury must consist of between six and twelve jurors (six jurors are presently used in the vast majority of federal civil trials; juries of twelve are still required in federal criminal cases). Rule 49 provides for use of "special verdicts" in jury trials, under which the jury may be asked to respond to specific questions rather than just finding liability or non-liability and determining the amount of the damages, if any. Rule 50 addresses situations in which a case is so one-sided that the court may grant "judgment as a matter of law" taking the case from the jury. Rule 51 governs jury instructions.

Rule 52 provides procedure for the judge to hand down findings and conclusions following non-jury trials. Rule 53 governs masters, who are typically lawyers designated by the court to act as neutrals and assist the court in a case.

Rules 54 to 63.

Rule 56 deals with summary judgment. It is considered the last gate-keeping function before trial, answering the question of whether the claim could even go to a jury. A successful summary judgment motion persuades the court there is no "genui

Rule 56 deals with summary judgment. It is considered the last gate-keeping function before trial, answering the question of whether the claim could even go to a jury. A successful summary judgment motion persuades the court there is no "genuine issue of material fact" and also that the moving party is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

The moving party can show that the disputed factual issues are illusory, can show a lack of genuine issue by producing affidavits or can make a showing through discovery. The movant can point either to the other side's inadequacies or can affirmatively negate the claim.

The moving party has the burden of production; it has to come up with some evidence that there's no genuine issue of material fact. Then the burden shifts to the non-moving party, which has to show that the claim is adequate to let it get to the jury. The non-movant can submit affidavits, depositions, and other material.

The burden shifts again to the moving party, which must say that there's still no genuine issue of material fact. A court grants summary judgment when there is no way the movant can lose at trial. When the moving party is the plaintiff, then it has to show that there's no way that a jury could find against it.

(A partial summary judgment usually pertains only to certain claims, not the whole case.)

Rule 50 also deals with judgments as a matter of law, however Rule 50 decisions take place after a jury has been empanelled. A motion under Rule 50(a) generally takes place immediately after the opposing party has finished presenting its case and must take place before the case is submitted to the jury. Importantly, to keep open the option of moving for a "judgment notwithstanding the verdict," or "judgment non obstante verdicto" after the jury has returned a verdict, one must file a Rule 50(a) motion. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the two are not separate motions, the JNOV motion is simply a renewed Rule 50(a) motion. A renewed 50(a) motion must be filed within 28 days of verdict entry.

Rule 50 also covers motions for a new trial. These motions can be granted, denied, conditionally granted, or conditionally denied. Conditional grants or denials cover what will happen if the case is reversed on appeal. For instance, a case that ends with a successfully renewed Rule 50(a) motion to overturn the jury verdict may also include a conditional grant of a new trial. If the losing party wins their appeal, the trial will start over again. A motion for a new trial is a Rule 59(a)(1) motion and is generally filed simultaneously and as an alternative to a renewal of a Rule 50(a) motion.

Rules 64 to 71.

This Title deals with remedies that may be granted by a federal court – both provisional remedies that may be ordered while the action is pending as well as final relief that may be granted to the winning party at the end of the case.

Rule 64 is captioned "Seizure of Person or Property" and authorizes procedures such as <

This Title deals with remedies that may be granted by a federal court – both provisional remedies that may be ordered while the action is pending as well as final relief that may be granted to the winning party at the end of the case.

Rule 64 is captioned "Seizure of Person or Property" and authorizes procedures such as Prejudgment attachment, replevin, and garnishment. In general, these remedies may be awarded when they would be authorized under the law of the state in which the federal court is located – a rare instance in which the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, generally designed to promote uniformity of practice in the federal districts throughout the country, defer to state law.

Rule 65 governs the procedure on applications for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders.

Rule 65.1 addresses security and suretyship issues arising when the court orders a party to deposit security such as a bond.

Rule 66 deals with receivership.

Rule 67 deals with funds deposited in court, such as in interpleader actions.

Rule 68 governs the offer of judgment procedure under which a party may make a confidential offer of settlement in an action for money damages.

Rules 69 and 70 deal with execution of judgments and orders directing a party to take a specific act. Rule 71 deals with the effect of judgments on persons who are not parties to the action.

Rules 71.1 to 76.

Chapter IX currently deals with special types of litigation that may take place in the federal courts. A former version of Chapter IX, contained in the original Rules of Civil Procedure, dealt with appeals from a District Court to a United States Court of Appeals. These rule

Chapter IX currently deals with special types of litigation that may take place in the federal courts. A former version of Chapter IX, contained in the original Rules of Civil Procedure, dealt with appeals from a District Court to a United States Court of Appeals. These rules were abrogated in 1967 when they were superseded by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, a separate set of rules specifically governing the Courts of Appeals.

Rule 71.1 deals with procedure in condemnation actions.

Rule 72 sets forth procedures for matters before United States magistrate judges, including both "dispositive" and "nondispositive" matters, and provides for review of the magistrate judge's decision by a District Judge.

Rule 73 provides that Magistrate Judges may preside over certain trials consistent with statute and upon the consent of all parties.

At present, there are no rules numbered 74 through 76.

Rules 77 to 80

Title XI. General Provisions

Rules 81 to 86

Title XIII – Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions<

Rule A outlines the scope and application of the supplementary rules in respect to certain remedies under admiralty and maritime claims, forfeiture actions in rem, and the procedure in statutory condemnation proceedings analogous to maritime actions.

Rule B deals with attachment and garnishment in in personam actions.

Rule C applies to actions in rem to enforce maritime liens or pursuant to federal statute which provides for a maritime actions in rem.

Rule B deals with attachment and garnishment in in personam actions.

Rule C applies to actions in rem to enforce maritime liens or pursuant to federal statute which provides for a maritime actions in rem.

Rule D deals with possessory, petitory, and partition actions in admiralty actions.

Rule E applies to actions in personam with process of maritime attachment and garnishment, actions in rem, and petitory, possessory, and partition actions.

Rule F relates to limitation of liability actions in relation to vessel owners.

Rule G deals with forfeiture actions in rem arising from federal statute.