Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Congress Authorized U.S. Supreme Court to Adopt Procedural Rules
The U.S. Congress passed a law authorizing the federal judiciary to adopt rules of practice and procedure for federal court proceedings. Congress also created a body called the Judicial Conference of the United States to administer the federal courts. The Supreme Court of the United States may adopt federal procedural rules, and the Judicial Conference has authority to recommend changes to the rules to the Supreme Court. Any rules adopted by the Supreme Court are subject to congressional review. The law gives Congress seven months to act on any rules adopted by the Supreme Court. If Congress does not pass legislation to change or reject the rules within that time period, the rules become law.
Adoption of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern practice and procedure in federal courts in all suits of a civil nature, with a few exceptions. The rules are to be construed and administered to assure the just, speedy, and economical determination of every lawsuit.
Procedural Rules Must Be Nonsubstantive
Rules of procedure provide the process for applying substantive laws to disputes between parties. Procedural rules may not reduce, enlarge, or modify any substantive right. A rule of procedure that amends or expands a substantive right is considered void.
Provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are comprehensive. They specify how service of process (notice of the lawsuit) is to be made on the defendant (the person being sued). The rules also provide the types and forms of pleadings to be filed in the case. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regulate discovery, which is the pretrial process used by the parties to learn more about the facts of the case and the other party’s evidence. The rules also regulate the trial process and the remedies available to the plaintiff (the person suing).
Local Procedural Rules
Local federal courts can adopt procedural rules that govern their own civil proceedings, but any local court rules have to be consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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