Resource Guide

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).

According to the NCSC's The Landscape of Civil Litigation in State Courts (2015), civil caseloads in state courts are actually dominated by lower-value contract, debt collection, landlord/tenant, and small claims cases. Most cases are resolved administratively rather than through adversarial proceedings. Litigants represent themselves in more than three-quarters of these cases.

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.
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.
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 2016 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.


Meltzer, Mark & John W. Rogers Arizona: R-17-0010 in a Nutshell. (2018). The Arizona Supreme Court's Order in R017-0010 amended or adopted more than a dozen of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. This article summarizes how those rule changes 1) create tiering, 2) impact initial filings, meeting, and reports, 3) affect electronically stored information, 4) impact disclosure and discovery, and 5) the sanctions to enforce the rules.
Paula Hannaford-Agor & Cynthia Lee Utah: Impact of the Revisions of Rule 26 on Discovery Practice in the Utah District Courts. This report analyzes the impact of a discovery-practice rule change in Utah's district courts. In particular, the report discusses the rule change affect on aggregate civil case filings, tier inflation, filing-to-disposition time, and settlement rates.
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.

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.


John Greacen Compendium of Statutes and Court Rules Relating to Appearances of Parties, Lawyers and Witness in Court Proceedings. (2017). Self-Represented Litigation NetworkThis supplemental report provides state-by-state statutes and court rules.
John Greacen Remote Appearances of Parties, Attorneys, and Witnesses: A Review of Current Court Rules and Practices. (2017). Self-Represented Litigation Network. This report covers both remote appearances of parties and attorneys at court proceedings and the remote presentation of evidence for those proceedings.
Vincent Morris and Stewar Whaley Use of Telephonic and Video Conferencing Technology in Remote Court Appearances. (2016). Open Access Law Firm, PLLC. This supplemental report provides a summary review of current and emerging trends using technology for remote court appearances and provides suggestions for courts regarding this technology.