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What is civil procedure?
Civil procedure is the body of law governing the methods and practices used in civil litigation. It can be enacted by the legislature or the courts. It can be the rules that are used in handling a civil case from the time the initial complaint is filed through the pretrial discovery, the trial and any subsequent appeal. In a nutshell, it can taken as the methods, procedures, and practices used in civil cases.
How do I know which rules apply to my case?
State and federal courts have different procedure codes. Each state has its own rules of civil procedure which is set out in a separate code of civil procedure. Many of the state civil procedure codes are modeled on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Generally, if the claim is brought in a state court, state procedural rules apply, and federal procedural rules apply to claims brought in federal court.
Certain types of claims are governed by a separate set of procedural rules. For example, bankruptcy claims are governed by Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and appeals are governed by state or federal rules of appellate procedure. Specific courts may also have their own set of local court rules which must be followed, in addition to the applicable state or federal rules. The clerk of courts at a particular court may be asked to direct you to the local court rules.
What happens if I fail to follow a rule of civil procedure?
Failure to follow the requirements of the applicable rules can result in the case being dismissed on procedural grounds. Such failure may also lead to rulings and denials which can harm your case, such as the exclusion of important evidence or the inability to file an important pleading in a case. A failure to comply with the rules may even lead to the imposition of attorney and court fees and sanctions.