This research guide is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather will list some of the major sources of law in the area and a variety of tools for the researcher to use when confronted with questions involving civil procedure. Links in this research guide will take the researcher to information about the resource, and in some cases, will link to full text of the resource. The titles of materials held in the Seattle University Law Library are linked to bibliographic records in the library's catalog. The title or citation for Web-based materials will be linked to the internet site where those materials or information about them may be found. Some citations may be linked to materials in Westlaw, Lexis, or other databases, including statutes, court rules, and law review articles of interest; if so, they may be available only to authorized users.
The topic of Civil Procedure covers the manner in which persons may seek redress through the court system. There are many components to this broad topic. They include such subtopics as: jurisdiction (whether a lawsuit can be brought at all and if so, where), pleading (the formal and time requirements for beginning a lawsuit), and discovery (what information must each party furnish to the other in the interests of justice and the procedures for obtaining that information). Because the topic is so broad, this research guide does not attempt comprehensiveness. Instead, it focuses on the most often used and most authoritative works on the subject. The guide also attempts to mention some of the most prominent works on various subtopics of Civil Procedure. This research guide is limited to civil procedure in the United States.
When this nation was created, it inherited a procedural framework that was mired in the technicalities of the common law exemplified in Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House (copy available in Walkover collection). For a detailed discussion about common law pleading, see Handbook of Common Law Pleading by Joseph H. Koffler and Alison Reppy, KF8870.K6 on the 4th Floor. Procedural reform did not come to fruition until the mid-nineteenth century with the advent of code pleading. New York's famous "Field Code" and its progeny substantially simplified civil procedure (the seminal work on the subject is Charles Clark's Handbook of the Law of Code Pleading). Thereafter, procedural law in the United States was largely governed by code pleading for nearly a century. In fact, fifteen states, including California, are still code pleading states.
In 1938, civil procedure was reformed again with the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules created a uniform system of pleading for all suits brought in federal court (thereby uniting law and equity). The Federal Rules also changed the mode of pleading from "fact pleading" to "notice pleading." A discussion of the changes brought about by the Rules is beyond the scope of this research guide. However, Charles Alan Wright's Federal Practice and Procedure (often referred to as "Wright & Miller"), KF8840.W68 at Reserve, provides a detailed discussion of the history of federal procedure at sections 1002 et seq. of the Civil component of the multivolume treatise.
Although the Federal Rules have been amended often over the ensuing years, they remain the foundation for civil procedure in the United States. In addition to their direct impact in federal courts, nearly every state has adopted civil rules based to some degree on their federal counterpart.