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Last updated March 22, 2009

Federal Civil Lawsuits

Television and motion pictures do not give the average person any idea of the time and work involved in lawsuits of any nature. Boston Legal takes cases from filing to trial in one day which never ever happens. Law And Order covers the crime, arrest, pre-trial, and trial in sixty minutes. They have to leave something out. And do they ever. Books really don't convey the feel of the time involved.

Trials are often misrepresented on television and in motion pictures. In Perry Mason witnesses often sit in court watching the trial which never happens in criminal trials. In plot twists, the opposing side comes up with last minute evidence that it springs on the other side. In criminal court the prosecution cannot withhold any evidence for trial. Failure to disclose evidence can result in the charges being dismissed or a mistrial being declared. In civil court both sides must share evidence before the trial. And civil evidence isn't just sprung on the unsuspecting witness because it must be properly entered into evidence and accepted by the court first.

And, judges do not like pro se litigants. Most pro se litigants tend to be prisoners or obnoxious people who are trying to use the court system not for justice but for revenge. Most pro se litigants do not take the time to try and do things right and get pissed when they lose on technicalities. Courts are not interested in justice, per se, but rather the rule of law. Do not go into court expecting justice because they don't dispense it. They administer the law. And while court are supposed to give greater latitude to pro se litigants and are required to construe their pleadings liberally, they tend not to. Whether the judges admit it or not, they are biased.

There are three major sections to a civil lawsuit. Step One involves filing the complaint, serving the opponent, the answer, and the reply. Step Two involves motions for summary judgment (rarely granted at this stage), scheduling hearing, depositions and discovery. Step Three involves motions for summary judgment, trial preparation, evidence and witness lists, and trial. These three steps are very similar for county and state court actions because Congress mandated years ago that the states should standardized the criminal and civil procedures along the federal guidelines. There are differences which you will need to study if not in federal court. These pages are not a complete analysis of everything that can happen. These are intended a guide and starting point.

Anyone contemplating filing a federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment for non-trademark infringement, should download this lawsuit, a lawsuit against Burberry in the Western District of Washington (Case No. 10-00850). Click here for the full 17-page complaint in PDF format. As a court document, it is public domain so feel free to use it as you wish.

Step One is broken into two segments: Filing A Federal Lawsuit and Defending Against A Federal lawsuit. The steps involved are slightly different.

Filing A Federal Lawsuit Defending Against Federal Lawsuit

Some information we present here was taked from Lexis Nexis and http://www.splcenter.org/pdf/static/pyhs_chapter_10.pdf. It is reproduced accurately not not always in its entirity because of its original audience. The source is noted.

Anyone with suggestions or comments on what we may have wrong, feel freee to contact us.

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