The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Fed.R.Civ.P.) governs all aspects of procedure for civil matters in United States District Courts. These rules are enacted by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2072 (i.e., the “Rules Enabling Act”). The Rules Enabling Act forbids federal procedural rules that ”abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2072(b); see also Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541, 2561 (2011). In other words, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure must “really regulat[e] procedure,–the judicial process for enforcing rights and duties recognized by substantive law and for justly administering remedy and redress for disregard or infraction of them.” Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 14 (1941). “Though a Rule may incidentally affect a party’s rights, it is valid so long as it regulates only the process for enforcing those rights, and not the rights themselves, the available remedies, or the rules of decision for adjudicating either.” Shady Grove Orthopedic Assocs., P.A. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 130 S. Ct. 1431, 1436 (2010).
In addition, to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, each United States District Court enacts a set of “local rules.” These local rules generally concern the operation of the particular District Court and supplement the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. When handling a matter in any federal court, one should make sure that they follow both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the relevant local rules for the particular District Court. This website provides both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, plus the local rules for each jurisdiction. It also provides interesting news and case summaries for pertinent federal law.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) govern civil procedure (i.e. for civil lawsuits) in United States district (federal) courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 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 procedure. (States may determine their own rules, which apply in state courts, although most states have adopted rules that are based on the FRCP.)
The Rules, established in 1938, replaced the earlier Field Code and common law pleading systems. 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 FRCP were completely rewritten, effective December 1, 2007, under the leadership of a committee headed by 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.