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Civil Procedure: Home

Civil Procedure resources for 1Ls, bar examinees, or other patrons.


Broadly speaking, civil procedure consists of the rules by which courts conduct civil trials. "Civil trials" concern the judicial resolution of claims by one individual or group against another and are to be distinguished from "criminal trials," in which the state prosecutes an individual for violation of criminal law.

"Procedure" is to be distinguished from "substantive law" in that substantive law defines the rights and duties of everyday conduct, such as in contract law or tort law.

A procedural system provides the mechanism for applying substantive law to real disputes. Such a system sets guidelines as to what information the judge or jury receives, how that information is to be presented, and by what standards of proof (e.g., "beyond a reasonable doubt," "by clear and convincing evidence," "by a preponderance of the evidence") the information will be adjudged. An effective procedural system ensures that similar cases will be treated similarly by the courts.

[Summary from Civil Procedure, Legal Information Institute, (last visited February 27, 2018).]

Subject Guide

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Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law: The Litigation & Dockets tab contains a webpage of Litigation Resources with links to sources such as federal and state court dockets, federal rules, and BNA’s Class Action Litigation Report.

Search for civil and choose the phrase Civil - All Legal Content that auto populates. Use the filters on the left to browse through court materials, secondary materials, and more.

Lexis Advance: Browse Sources—Secondary Materials—Texas—choose from sources like Texas Civil Trial and Appellate Procedure and Texas Civil Trial Guide.

Browse Sources— Search “Civil Procedure”—choose from sources like Dorsaneo, Texas Litigation Guide; Federal Litigation Guide; and Texas Local, State & Federal Court Rules.

Browse Topics—Use the Civil Procedure link to locate documents in topics like Pleading & Practice.

Westlaw: Begin typing Texas Practice Guides, Fundamentals of Federal Litigation, or Fundamentals of Litigation Practice in the global search box, and click the title of interest under the Looking for this? feature that appears.

Under Tools—West Key Number System, 170A: Federal Civil Procedure and 170B: Federal Courts may both provide guidance in finding related materials.


Useful Definitions

Cause of action: A group of operative facts giving rise to one or more bases for suing; a factual situation that entitles one person to obtain a remedy in court from another person.

Civil Procedure: The body of law — usually rules enacted by the legislature or courts — governing the methods and practices used in civil litigation.     

Class action: A lawsuit in which the court authorizes a single person or a small group of people to represent the interests of a larger group.

Complaint: The initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court's jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff's claim, and the demand for relief.

Discovery: The act or process of finding or learning something that was previously unknown.

Judgment: A court's final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.

Jurisdiction: A government's general power to exercise authority over all persons and things within its territory; especially, a state's power to create interests that will be recognized under common-law principles as valid in other states.

Pleading: A formal document in which a party to a legal proceeding (especially a civil lawsuit) sets forth or responds to allegations, claims, denials, or defenses.

All definitions come from Black’s Law Dictionary, 11th ed. (2019).