Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

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Introduction and Overview
– History of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
– Titles and organization of the FRCP
– Purpose and scope of the FRCP
– Distinction between code pleading and notice pleading
– Formatting and local rules for pleadings
– Rule 11 and sanctions for improper conduct
– Rule 12 motions to dismiss or for summary judgment

Commencement of Suits
– Filing a complaint and commencement of a civil action
– Issuance of summons and service of process on defendants
– Serving papers on parties and filing with the court
– Computation of time and extensions of deadlines

Pleadings and Motions
– Requirements for plaintiff’s claim and defendant’s answer
– Affirmative defenses and alternative statements of claims or defenses
– Discovery process and rules for document requests, interrogatories, requests for admissions, and depositions
– Initial disclosures and exceptions to disclosure rules
– Discovery plan and deadlines for amending pleadings and expert disclosures

Trial Process
– Right to a trial by jury and order of scheduling cases for trial
– Voluntary dismissal of actions and consolidation of related cases
– Taking of testimony in open court
– Summary judgment and motions for a new trial
– Provisional and final remedies, including attachment, injunctions, receivership, and offer of judgment

Special Proceedings and District Courts
– Special types of litigation in federal courts, such as condemnation actions and matters before magistrate judges
– Conduct of business and issuing orders by district courts and clerks
– Supplemental rules for admiralty or maritime claims and asset forfeiture actions

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (officially abbreviated Fed. R. Civ. P.; colloquially FRCP) govern civil procedure in United States district courts. They are the companion to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rules promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act become part of the FRCP unless, within seven months, the United States Congress acts to veto them. 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.

At the time 28 USC 724 (1934) was adopted, federal courts were generally required to follow the procedural rules of the states in which they sat, but they were free to apply federal common law in cases not governed by a state constitution or state statute. Whether within the intent of Congress or not when adopting 28 USC 724 (1934), the situation was effectively reversed in 1938, the year the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure took effect. Federal courts are now required to apply the substantive law of the states as rules of decision in cases where state law is in question, including state judicial decisions, and the federal courts almost always are required to 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.

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