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Federal Rules Civil Procedure

An Explanation of the Federal Rules Civil Procedure

The federal rules of civil procedure are guidelines established in 1938 by the United States federal government that dictate trial procedure in federal district courts in the cases of civil trails. As of 2010, the rules encompass thirteen separate categories.

1. Scope of Rules; Form of Action. This category defines what the rules are governing, in this case, the procedures of a civil trail.

2. Commencing an Action; Service of Process, Pleadings, Motions, and Orders. This category lists specific procedures and what member of the court should carry them out, from issuing a summons to how to appropriately file motion papers.

3. Pleadings and Motions. This category covers the specific physical appearance of legal documents. It also states how much time a defendant has to respond to a summons with a plea, and the appropriate method of response.

4. Parties. This category explains who should be present at a civil trial, exceptions, and possible alternatives (for example, a class action suit can appoint a representative on their behalf).

5. Disclosures and Discovery. This category governs how information is collected and revealed, whether that information comes from a person, or from a document.

6. Trials. Primarily concerned with jury selection and rules, as well as general courtroom procedures, this category also defines who has a right to a trial.

7. Judgment. This category describes the numerous types of judgments, and how a court may react to them.

8. Provisional and Final Remedies. This category handles all money, bond, and security procedures.

9. Special Proceedings. This category regulates unusual circumstances, including the duties of a magistrate judge, and the condemnation of property.

10. District Courts and Clerks: Conducting Business; Issuing Orders. This category requires courts to be open and available during regularly agreed upon hours.

11. General Provisions. This category outlines any exemptions to the rules due to geographical or situational circumstances.

12. Appendix of Forms is an online database of commonly used legal forms.

13. Supplemental Rules for Admiralty of Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. Much like the General Provisions category, this category outlines exemptions to the federal rules of civil procedure in certain maritime scenarios, and offers suggestions on implementations of the existing rules.

Each state in the U.S. is allowed to set its own civil procedure, but many have adopted rules heavily based on the federal rules of civil procedure. The Supreme Court may make amendments to the rules, pending the approval of the United States Congress. The rules receive minor revisions on a fairly regular basis to keep up with contemporary legal and social challenges, such as how best to handle electronically produced documents. The rules were compiled primarily to make civil procedure less formal but more effective by codifying specific legal terminology into blanket actions. This freed procedures, such as pleading, from having to use overly specific linguistic requirements, and instead allowed participants to address the required points of the action in their own words.

A complete version of the federal rules of civil procedure are available in text book form, or can be purchased via online services such as iTunes, which provides applications specifically designed to quickly reference relevant sections of the rules.

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