Federal Court Rules

Federal Court Rules in the United States

All Federal courts have their own rules. The following entry explains where to find court rules for specific courts and specific kinds of rules. For a general discussion of Federal court rules, see Fundamentals of Legal Research. To update court rules, see the sources listed at the end of this entry.

Appellate Courts: See either the separate entry for the “Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure” or, for local rules, the “Circuit & District Courts” section of this entry, below.

Bankruptcy Appellate Panels: BAP rules promulgated by the U.S. Supreme Court are published in the Rules and Forms appendix to Title 11 of the U.S. Code (see “United States Code”) and in CCH’s Federal Bankruptcy Reporter. You can search BAP rules in Westlaw’s US-RULES database — to get only BAP rules, add “& ci(bap)” and the end of your search.

There are also local rules for the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel in each Federal circuit. The rules for some circuits are posted on the Internet; links are compiled on the Federal Judiciary’s BAP Rules page and in LLRX’s Court Rules, Forms and Docketsdatabase. BAP local rules for all circuits are available in Westlaw´s UC-RULES database, which you can search by circuit — e.g., add “ci(cta8 bap)” to get the BAP rules for the 8th circuit.

Bankruptcy Courts: Local bankruptcy court rules are published in (a) the Court Rules pamphlet at the end of most state statutes and (b) the soft cover Local Rules of the Bankrupt Courts volumes at the end of the Collier Bankruptcy Practice Guide. Many are available on the Internet – links are posted on the Federal Judiciary’s Local Court Rulesand in LLRX’s Court Rules, Forms and Dockets database, including links to Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Rules.

Alternatively, the local bankruptcy rules should be available in the Westlaw rules database for the state in question (xx-RULES, with “XX” standing for a state’s two-letter abbreviation). Note: The Delaware Bankruptcy Court calls its rules “Orders.”

For information on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, see the “Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure” entry.

Claims Court: Rules of U.S. Court of Federal Claims are published at the end of Title 28 of the U.S. Code. They are also posted on the Rules and Forms page of the Court’s Web site and included in Westlaw´s US-RULES database. On Westlaw, add “& ci(fcl)” to limit your search to just Court of Claim rules.

Circuit & District Courts: The procedural and evidence rules for the Federal circuit and district courts get their own entries. For the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, theFederal Rules of Criminal Procedure and/or the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, see “Federal Procedure Rules.” For the Federal Rules of Evidence, see “Federal Rules of Evidence.”

The local rules for the Federal district courts and the Federal circuit courts of appeals are available —

(a) In Local Federal Court Rules, a multi-volume looseleaf set;

(b) Free on each court’s web site – links are posted by the Federal Judiciary’s Local Court Rules page. Or try the LLRX Court Rules, Forms and Dockets database.

(c) In the rules volume at the end of just about every state’s codified statutes, often in a paperback volume kept at the end of the set.

(d) On Lexis, the local rules for each district court are included in the database for the related state’s court rules (GENFED;xxFRUL).

(e) On Westlaw, the local rules for each district court are included in the database for the related state’s court rules (e.g., OH-RULES for Ohio district courts). Circuit Court rules are included in the US-RULES database. To limit a search to the rules for a particular circuit, add the phrase “& ci(ctaX)” to your search, with “X” being the number of the circuit. Add “& ci(ctadc)” for the D.C. circuit and “& ci(ctaf)” for the Federal circuit.

(f) For the Circuit Courts, in the Federal Court of Appeals Manual: Local Rules(Thomson/West).

You can get copies of historical district court local rules from the L.A. County Law Library (213-629-3531). They are also available in the Archived editions of each state’s statutory code on Lexis. This includes any special Patent Local Rules (add “and heading(patent local rules)” to search for an archival patent rule).

The rules of individual district court judges are published in the Directory of Federal Court Guidelines (Aspen Publishers). Otherwise, check the relevant court web site and/or call the court.

For post-conviction Habeas reviews, see the Section 2254 and 2255 Cases section, below.

New Jersey: In addition to the other national publications mentioned by type of court or rule, New Jersey Federal court rules are published in New Jersey Federal Practice Rules, published by Gann Law Books (Newark, NJ), “with comments and annotations by Allyn Lyte.”

District Courts: See “Circuit & District Courts,” above.

Evidence Rules: See “Federal Rules of Evidence.”

International Trade: The rules of the U.S. Court of International Trade are published at the end of Title 28 of the U.S. Code. They are posted on the Court’s Rules and Forms page.

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation: For the Rules of Procedure of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, see the “Multidistrict Litigation” entry.

Local Rules: See “Bankruptcy Courts” or “Circuit & District Courts,” both above in this entry.

Precedent: For a discussion of precendential value of unpublished Federal court opinions, See the “Unreported Decisions” entry.

Regional Rail Reorganization Act: The rules for the special court hearing cases under the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 are included in Westlaw´s US-RULES database. Add “& ci(rrra)” to the end of your query to get hits from just these rules.

Section 2254 & 2255 Cases: 28 U.S.C. sections 2254 & 2255 give a convicted criminal defendant the right to a post-conviction habeas corpus review. There are special Rules Governing Section 2254 and 2255 Cases in the United States District Courts. These Rules are available in print in the “Criminal” rules pamphlet at the end ofMoore’s Federal Practice. These Rules are searchable in Westlaw´s US-RULES database; add “& ci(2254)” or “& ci(2255)” to the end of your query to get hits from just these rules.

Supreme Court: The Rules of the United States Supreme Court are published at the end of Title 28 of the United States Code and West’s 1-volume paperback Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules. Online editions are posted free on the Supreme Court Web site and Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. The rules are searchable on Westlaw (in the US-RULES database; add “& ci(“s ct rule”)” to limit your search to just U.S. Supreme Court rules).

Tax Court: The U.S. Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure are posted free on the court’s Web site www.ustaxcourt.gov/notice.htm. An annotated version is published in the CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter.

In addition, tax Court rules are searchable in their own file on Lexis (FEDTAX;TAXRUL); they are searchable with other Federal court rules in Westlaw´s US-RULES database. To limit your Westlaw search to just Tax Court rules, add “ci(tax”) to the end of your query.

Veterans Appeals: The Rules of Practice Before the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals are codified at Title 38, Part 20 (38 C.F.R. 20.1 et seq.).

Updating Federal Court Rules

To update federal court rules, you can:

(a) Look in the recent issues of Federal Rules Decisions, which reprints new rules for all federal courts. The new rules are published in the front of the FRD just before they go into effect.

(b) Check the relevant court Web sites. For Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Evidence rules, check the Rules and Policies section of the Federal Judiciary site. New rules may also be published in the relevant legal newspaper; e.g., for New York Federal courts, you can search an electronic edition of the New York Law Journal.

On Lexis you can search for updates in the “Federal and State Court Orders” file (CODES;ORDERS).

On Westlaw, you can search for updates in the US-ORDERS database. Alternatively, rules that have been amended have an “UPDATE” link you can click on to jump to the relevant update page.

For more specifics, see entries for individual courts by name.

See Also

Federal Procedure Rules
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
Federal Rules of Evidence
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
State Court Rules






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