Civil Procedure

Resource Guide

Pretrial procedures in civil cases primarily consist of notice, pleadings, discovery/depositions, and pretrial hearings. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) outlines pretrial rules and procedures in federal civil cases. State civil procedural rules often follow the FRCP, with variations made to accommodate state practices and court structure.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

Paula Hannaford-Agor Trends: Close Up - Civil Justice Myths. (2017).

Five years ago, the Conference of Chief Justices convened a Civil Justice Improvements Committee
to make recommendations for best practices in state court civil justice cases. To inform the committee’s
deliberations, NCSC undertook a study titled The Landscape of Civil Litigation in State Courts.


Hannaford-Agor et al. Civil Justice Initiative - Utah: Impact of the Revisions to Rule 26 on Discovery Practice in Utah District Courts (2015). In November 2011, the Utah Supreme Court revised the rules governing discovery in civil cases.  The revisions expressly provide that the amount of discovery undertaken should be proportional to the amount at stake in the litigation, and established three separate discovery tiers that specify the amount of permissible discovery based on the amount-in-controversy stated in the complaint.  The NCSC evaluated the impact of the revision and found that the revisions significantly reduced the time to disposition, and in most types of cases, significantly reduced the frequency of discovery disputes.  The revisions also resulted in increased rates of legal representation by plaintiffs in civil cases other than debt-collection and domestic cases, and increased settlements.  
William E. Raftery Civil Jurisdiction Thresholds. (2015). Gavel to Gavel author Bill Raftery has put together the latest state-by-state survey of civil jurisdiction thresholds available. The chart outlines the dollar figure which distinguishes the court jurisdiction in which the civil case will be heard.  It also cites the relevant statute and language each state uses to make said distinctions as well as the date the statute last changed.
Hannaford-Agor et al. Civil Justice Initiative - New Hampshire: Impact of the Proportional Discovery/Automatic Disclosure Pilot Rules (2013). Recent surveys of judges and lawyers have identified discovery as a frequent source of unnecessary cost and delay. To address these concerns, many state and federal courts have begun to develop and implement civil justice reform efforts intended to streamline the litigation process, to minimize the potential for discovery disputes, and to expedite the fair resolution of civil cases. New Hampshire was one of the first jurisdictions to revise its rules of civil procedure with these objectives in mind and this study examines the results.
Paula Hannaford-Agor and Nicole Waters. Estimating the Cost of Civil Litigation. (2013). National Center for State Courts. The Civil Litigation Cost Model (CLCM) is one component of a larger NCSC civil justice initiative. The primary component of the initiative is a series of evaluations of civil justice reforms enacted to reduce delay and expense, and to increase access to justice in civil litigation.
Paula Hannaford-Agor, NCSC The Landscape of Civil Litigation in State Courts. (November 2015).     This report from NCSC examines case characteristics and outcomes for civil cases during a one year interval from courts in 10 urban counties in the U.S. Some key findings include, for all civil caseloads, three quarters of the judgments were under $5,200, more than three quarters of cases included at least one self-represented party, and most cases were resolved through an administrative process.
Durkin et al. Another Voice: Reducing Client Costs in Civil Litigation. (2012). American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
Gerety and Cornett Rule 16.1: Colorado's Simplified Civil Procedure Experiment. (2012). Institute for Advancement of the American Legal System. The idea behind Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 (“Rule 16.1”) was to provide a simpler process for relatively small cases, with more extensive disclosures and essentially no discovery followed by a more expedited trial. It is an optional procedure, with a corresponding cap on recovery. As interest in streamlined pretrial procedures, case differentiation, and voluntary processes grows, it is important to examine one such rule that has been in place for some time.

Civil Justice System

Procedural Fairness in California: Initiatives, Challenges, and Recommendations (2011). Center for Court Innovation.

In 2008, the California Administrative Office of the Court’s Executive Office Programs Division commissioned the Center for Court Innovation to conduct a thorough needs assessment and analysis of best practices in promoting procedural fairness among the state’s civil and traffic cases. This report describes findings from over 20 site visits and nearly 50 stakeholder interviews along with a document and website review.

Rebecca L. Kourlis and Brittany K.T. Kauffman The American Civil Justice System: From Recommendations to Reform in the 21st Century .     Understanding the current Civil Justice System needs major repair and that current rules do not always lead to early identification of contested issues, Kourlis and Kauffman discuss pilot programs that work to increase efficiency while still making sure justice is served. The pilot project includes the following themes: case differentiation, incorporation of proportionality principles in discovery, and an increase in judicial case management. The overall goal is to prioritize justice and reduce the cost of current programs.
Gerety, Corina. Surveys of the Colorado Bench and Bar on Colorado's Simplified Pretrial Procedure for Civil Actions (2010). Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

In June and July of 2010, IAALS conducted two surveys of Colorado legal professionals to examine Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 ("Rule 16.1"). Rule 16.1 sets forth a simplified pre-trial procedure for certain civil actions in Colorado District Court ("District Court"), the state trial court of general jurisdiction governed by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure ("CRCP").

21st Century Civil Justice System: A Roadmap for Reform: Pilot Project Rules (2009). University of Denver, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System This report from the  American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) urges jurisdictions to use these published Rules as a roadmap for consideration in creating and implementing pilot projects to improve the civil justice system.  
Case Processing Time Standards. National Center for State Courts.

This database compiles state-by-state information about Case Processing Time Standards (CPTS) including Civil and how states monitor them.

Civil Case Reporting (2009). Research Division, NCSC and Conference of State Court Administrators.

Civil Section from State Court Guide to Statistical Reporting.

Civil Caseloads . National Center for State Courts.


An article from Examining the Work of State Courts: An Analysis of 2009 State Court Caseloads. The Court Statistics Project collects and analyzes data relating to the work of our nation's courts.

Galanter, Marc and Susan Steingass Civil Justice in Wisconsin: A Fact Book (2009). The University of Wisconsin Law School This resource discusses civil case filings in Wisconsin, the type of civil case, and how many cases went to trial.
Use of Civil Cover Sheets in Other States (2009). Texas Office of Court Administration This report details results received in response to a survey about usage of civil cover sheets among the state courts.
Civil Justice Survey (2005). National Center for State Courts.

Active for the last two decades, the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts comprises multiple iterations to examine and analyze civil litigation across the nation. The series allows for an in-depth look at civil trials over time, permitting researchers and policy makers to analyze trends.


Navigating the Hazards of E-Discovery, A Manual for Judges in State Courts Across The Nation (2007). Institute for the Advancement of American Legal

This manual proceeds as follows: Part I provides a brief background on the vocabulary and technical aspects of electronic discovery. Part II examines issues of primary concern to litigants, particularly cost of production and preservation of evidence. Part III, in turn, looks at e-discovery challenges from the perspective of the bar. Finally, Part IV focuses on issues of particular concern to courts, and offers suggestions to help courts handle e-discovery disputes with fairness and efficiency.

Van Duizand, Richard, Editor. Electronic Discovery: Questions and Answers. (Summer 2004). Civil Action Volume 3, Number 2.

This issue of Civil Action addresses questions such as: " "What Is Electronic Discovery?" and "How Does It Change the Discovery Process for Judges?"

Van Duizend, Richard. Guidelines for State Trial Courts Regarding Discovery of Electronically-Stored Information. (2006).

This report is intended to help reduce the uncertainty in state court litigation by assisting trial judges in identifying the issues and determining the decision-making factors to be applied.

Lawler, Caridad & Milner Pennsylvania Proclaims eDiscovery Independence from Federal Model. (2012).

State Supreme Court adopts new eDiscovery rules similar to federal rules, but specifically rejects federal jurisprudence.

Mandatory Disclosure

Joanna Shepherd Is More Information Always Better? Mandatory Disclosure Regulations in the Prescription Drug Market. (2014).     Shepherd argues that new regulations included in the Affordable Care Act requiring disclosure of competitively sensitive financial information will end up costing consumers more money. Though mandatory disclosure is often thought of as good practice, the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who serve as intermediaries between consumers, pharmacies, and drug manufacturers, will lose their ability to negotiate and generate cost savings. According to Shepherd, this disruption of competition will increase prices.
Edwards, Matthew A. The Virtue of Mandatory Disclosure. (2014).     Edwards argues that the recent emphasis on disclosure is both the result of a political shift towards transparency as well as the product of the contest between the two modern theories of consequentialism and deontology. The basic ideas underlying mandatory disclosure are peoples' rights to information and a firm's moral obligation to provide information.