Connecticut Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Connecticut Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

I. Introduction to Civil Procedure

Overview: Civil Procedure concerns the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits. These procedures are designed to ensure fairness and efficiency in the legal process.

A. Sources of Procedural Law

  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
  • Connecticut Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Statutory directives (e.g., Connecticut General Statutes)
  • Case law precedents

B. Jurisdiction and Venue

  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The power of a court to hear a particular type of case.
  • Personal Jurisdiction: The power of a court to require a party or a witness to come before the court.
  • Diversity Jurisdiction: Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
  • Erie Doctrine: Federal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law.

C. Pleadings

  • Complaint: The initial document filed by the plaintiff stating the claims against the defendant.
  • Answer: The defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s complaint.
  • Motion to Dismiss: A request to the court to dismiss a case for specific reasons (e.g., lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a claim).

II. Pretrial Procedures

Overview: Pretrial procedures include everything that occurs before a civil case goes to trial, such as discovery, pretrial conferences, and motions.

A. Discovery

  • Depositions, interrogatories, requests for production, admissions, and subpoenas.
  • Scope of Discovery: Generally, parties may discover any nonprivileged matter relevant to any party’s claim or defense.

B. Motions

  • Summary Judgment: A request for the court to rule that the other party has no case because there are no facts at issue.
  • Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings: Similar to summary judgment, but based solely on the content of the pleadings.
  • Motion to Compel: A request that the court force the opposing party to comply with a discovery request.

C. Pretrial Conference

  • Case management order: A schedule and procedure for the progression of the case.

III. Trial Procedures

Overview: Trial procedures encompass jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, jury instructions, and the verdict.

A. Right to a Jury Trial

  • Seventh Amendment: Preserves the right to a jury trial in civil cases at the federal level.
  • Connecticut Constitution: Reserves the right to a jury trial in civil cases at the state level.

B. Jury Selection (Voir Dire)

  • Process of questioning prospective jurors to ensure an impartial jury.

C. Presentation of Evidence

  • Direct Examination and Cross-Examination.
  • Rules of Evidence: Govern the admissibility of evidence in court.

IV. Post-Trial Procedures

Overview: After a trial concludes, there may be post-trial motions, appeals, or enforcement of judgments.

A. Post-Trial Motions

  • Motion for a New Trial: Asserts that there were errors during the trial that resulted in an unfair trial.
  • Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (JMOL): Requests the court to overturn the jury’s verdict.

B. Appeals

  • Notice of Appeal: Must be filed within a set timeframe after the judgment.
  • Standard of Review: De novo for questions of law, clearly erroneous for findings of fact.

C. Enforcement of Judgments

  • Connecticut General Statutes govern the enforcement of judgments, including writs of execution and garnishment.

V. Key Connecticut Civil Procedure Cases and Concepts

Case: Pellegrino v. O’Neill, 193 Conn. 670 (1984)

  • Issue: Whether the trial court properly exercised personal jurisdiction.
  • Rule: Connecticut’s long-arm statute extends personal jurisdiction to the limits of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Application: The defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with Connecticut.
  • Conclusion: The trial court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

Case: Rosado v. Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 292 Conn. 1 (2009)

  • Issue: The application of the statute of limitations in a personal injury case.
  • Rule: The statute of limitations may be tolled under the discovery rule.
  • Application: The plaintiff did not discover the injury until after the statute of limitations had expired.
  • Conclusion: The action was timely filed under the discovery rule.

Concept: Connecticut’s Long-Arm Statute (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-59b)

  • Summary: Allows for personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants who have certain minimum contacts with the state.

Concept: Connecticut’s Offer of Compromise (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-192a)

  • Summary: Encourages settlement by imposing financial consequences on a party who rejects a reasonable offer of compromise and fails to obtain a more favorable judgment.

Concept: Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel

  • Res Judicata: A final judgment on the merits precludes the parties from relitigating the same cause of action.
  • Collateral Estoppel: Once an issue has been definitively decided in a previous action, it cannot be relitigated in a future action involving a party to the original case.

VI. Conclusion

This guide provides a foundational overview of Civil Procedure for first-year law students in Connecticut. It is essential to supplement this guide with detailed readings of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Connecticut Rules of Civil Procedure, key cases, and relevant statutes. Additionally, continuous review of the concepts, coupled with practice applying the rules to hypothetical scenarios, will prepare students for success on their final semester exam in Civil Procedure.

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