Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure
Civil procedure is a broad area of law governing the process by which civil matters are resolved in court. This guide will cover the key concepts, rules, and case law relevant to a 1L civil procedure course, with a focus on both federal and Colorado-specific rules where applicable.
Jurisdiction and Venue
Subject-Matter Jurisdiction: The power of a court to hear certain types of cases. For example, federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over federal question cases and diversity of citizenship cases.
- Federal Question Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1331)
- Diversity Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1332)
- Colorado Courts: Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) Title 13 covers state court jurisdiction.
Personal Jurisdiction: A court’s power to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant’s personal rights, rather than merely over property interests.
- International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945): Established the “minimum contacts” standard for determining personal jurisdiction.
- Colorado’s Long-Arm Statute (C.R.S. § 13-1-124)
Venue: The geographic location where a lawsuit should be heard. Venue rules are set by both federal law (28 U.S.C. § 1391) and Colorado law (C.R.S. § 13-73-101 et seq.).
Complaint: The initial pleading that begins a civil action and states the basis for the court’s jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff’s claim, and the demand for relief.
Answer: The defendant’s response that admits or denies the factual allegations of the complaint and sets out any defenses to those allegations.
Rule 12 Motions: Challenges to the sufficiency of the complaint or the court’s ability to hear the case, such as motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Colorado Rules: Governed by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (C.R.C.P.), particularly Rules 7 and 8 for pleadings.
Joinder and Parties
Joinder of Claims and Parties: Rules regarding the ability of parties to join multiple claims and/or parties in a single lawsuit.
- Rule 20: Permits permissive joinder of parties.
- Rule 18: Allows for joinder of claims.
Class Actions: A form of lawsuit where one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons.
- Rule 23: Governs class actions in federal courts.
- Colorado Class Actions: Governed by C.R.C.P. Rule 23.
Scope of Discovery: The process by which parties obtain information from each other to prepare for trial.
- Relevant Information: Generally, parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.
- Federal Rule 26: Provides guidance on the scope and limits of discovery.
- Colorado Discovery Rules: C.R.C.P. Rules 26 to 37 detail discovery procedures in Colorado courts.
Summary Judgment: A procedural device used to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute over the material facts of the case.
- Federal Rule 56: Sets forth the standards for granting summary judgment.
- Colorado Summary Judgment: Governed by C.R.C.P. Rule 56.
Right to a Jury Trial: The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases at the federal level, and Article II, Section 23 of the Colorado Constitution guarantees this right at the state level.
Conduct of the Trial: The trial process, including jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, and closing arguments.
Judgment as a Matter of Law (JMOL): A motion that can be made by a party during trial, asserting that the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case.
- Federal Rule 50: Governs JMOL in federal courts.
Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (formerly known as JNOV): A post-trial motion that can be filed after a jury verdict, asserting that the jury’s verdict is not supported by the evidence.
- Federal Rule 50(b): Governs the renewed JMOL in federal courts.
Motion for a New Trial: A request for a new trial due to error during the first trial.
- Federal Rule 59: Provides for a motion for a new trial.
- Colorado Rule: C.R.C.P. Rule 59 also addresses new trials.
Final Judgment Rule: Appeals are typically only allowed from final judgments that dispose of all parties’ claims.
- Federal Rule 54(b): Addresses judgments that are final as to one or more but fewer than all claims or parties.
Standards of Review: The appellate court will apply different standards of review depending on the nature of the issue, such as de novo for legal issues and abuse of discretion for discretionary matters.
Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion): Prevents parties from relitigating a claim that has already been finally adjudicated.
Collateral Estoppel (Issue Preclusion): Bars relitigation of a particular issue that was already decided in a previous action between the same parties.
Colorado Applications: C.R.S. Title 13 and the Colorado case law address the application of these doctrines.
Federal and Colorado Civil Procedure Comparison
Differences Between Federal and Colorado Rules: While many Colorado rules are modeled after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there are nuances and specific provisions unique to Colorado that law students must understand.
Colorado-Specific Procedures: Local rules, case law, and statutes may establish procedural requirements that are distinct from federal practice.
This guide provides a fundamental overview, but students should engage with the course materials, statutes, and case law for a deeper understanding and for specific details that are essential for their final semester exam preparation. Always be sure to check for the latest updates to laws and rules, as changes can occur.