Federal Rules of Civil Procedure- Simplified:

     Below, you will find that we have compiled an unabridged, simplified version of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2017) in order to aid you in filing a civil action.  This is compiled for the purpose of helping you proceed in court without the aid of an attorney, which is called “Pro Se Litigation“.  The Latin phrase “Pro Se” translates “For Yourself”- or “filing on your own behalf”.

   Every Federal District Courthouse has a Pro Se Litigation self-help section to help you file within that district.  This is not for County or State Courtswe are speaking of Federal Courts– learn more.  To find your local Federal District Courthouse, use the

Federal Courthouse Locator

    Once you’ve located your local District courthouse, perform a Google search to find the Pro Se Self-Help section for your District.  Here are just a few from various courthouses:

Northern District of California: www.cand.uscourts.gov/prosehandbook

District of North Dakota:  www.ndd.uscourts.gov/lci/pro_se.pdf

Iowa:   www.iowacourts.gov/For_the_Public/Representing_Yourself_in_Court/How_to_Represent_Yourself/

“Pro Se” section for The Peoples’ Court (U.S. Court of Federal Claims):  www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/pro-se-information

     What you will find within most Pro Se self-help sections is that the courts recommend Black’s Law Dictionary.  Therefore, the following links, which constitute a simplified version of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“The Rules”), include definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition. The links also include blank court forms from UScourts.gov embedded into their corresponding rules in order to make navigating “how to file a civil action” much simpler.  

    Below, each section of the  of The Rules contains a short summary beneath them.  Rules which stateNothing Functional” do not have any forms associated with them.  Rules which have Step One Filing” are filed first (so be sure not to miss any “step one” rules when filing your first set of paperwork!).  Rules which have “Step Two Filing” are filed next- & so on.  

    Click on any of the below rules to find a concise summary of the rule, related legal term definitions, & corresponding court forms, followed by the rule in its entirety.  The rest should be self-explanatory.  This work is being brought to you by Wild Willpower.

Title I- Scope of Rules; Form of Action:

Nothing Functional– explains that Fed. Rules Civil Procedure govern all Civil Cases in all U.S. Federal District Courts.

Nothing Functional– explains that the 11 Forms of Action that were historically used in English Common Law have been condensed & simplified into the modern “Civil Action”.

Title II– Commencing an Action; Service of Process; Pleadings, Motions, & Orders:

Step One Filing– for low income or impoverished persons, including inmates, who need to have court fees waived.

Step One Filing– this section includes the Civil Complaint form used to commence a civil action.

Step Two and Three FilingsSend the Defendant(s) one signed Notice of Lawsuit & Request to Waive Service Form and two  Waiver of the Service Forms along with one copy of the Complaint & a stamped, self-addressed envelope.  Each Defendant who fails to Waive the Service & Promise to Appear (explained in previous forms) must be sent a Summons form that is signed & sealed by the Court.  Read full rule.

Title III- Pleadings & Motions:

Title IV – Parties:

Title V – Disclosures & Discovery

Title VI – Trials:

Title VII – Judgment:

Title VIII- Provisional & Final Remedies:

Title IX – Special Proceedings:

Title X- District Courts & Clerks: Conducting Business; Issuing Orders:

Title XI – General Provisions:

XII – Appendix of Forms (U.S. Courts site– This rule was abrogated on December 1, 2015.

XIII – Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims & Asset Forfeiture Actions


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Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

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Source LYNX graphic

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:  https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_1
Elements of a Civil Complaint:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/15490013/Elements-of-a-Civil-Complaint#scribd
Black’s Law, definition of “Plaintiff”:  http://thelawdictionary.org/plaintiff/
Federal District Courthouse locator:  http://www.uscourts.gov/court-locator
Black’s Law, definition of “Jurisdiction”:  http://thelawdictionary.org/jurisdiction/
Sample of a “Case Caption”:  http://www.theconnectedlawyer.com/archives/189
Black’s Law on “Allegations”:  http://thelawdictionary.org/allegation/
Black’s Law on “Damage”:  http://thelawdictionary.org/damage/
Black’s Law, definition of “Boilerplate”:  http://thelawdictionary.org/boilerplate/
5 year minimum “Statute of Limitations” for federal crimes:  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3282
Definition of “Capital offenses”:  http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/capital+offense
Article 7 section 4 “Unfair Exemptions” in the California State Constitution:  http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_7
“Civil Cases” & “Criminal Cases” explained by the Federal Judicial Center:  http://www.fjc.gov/federal/courts.nsf/autoframe!openform&nav=menu1&page=/federal/courts.nsf/page/154
California State BAR, a “public corporation in the judicial branch”:  http://www.calbar.ca.gov/AboutUs.aspx
California State Constitution Article VII “exemptions from civil service:  http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_7
Nevada County Superior Courthouses, “public corporation in the judicial branch”:  http://www.nevadacountycourts.com/

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