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Civil litigation

Civil litigation is the legal process (usually in court, but also in arbitration or mediation) in which civil disputes involving money and property rights are resolved—usually by a judge, jury, or arbitrator.

Civil litigation is in contrast to criminal litigation in which a prosecutor—representing a city, state, or the federal government—prosecutes a person or entity for criminal acts (crimes) with punishment ranging from fines and penalties to jail or prison time and death sentences.

In Texas, civil litigation encompasses the legal proceedings where parties seek to resolve non-criminal disputes in a formal setting. This can involve disputes over contracts, property, personal injury, and other issues where the plaintiff seeks monetary damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. Civil cases in Texas can be heard by a judge or a jury, depending on the circumstances and the preferences of the parties involved. The process may also include pre-trial procedures such as discovery, where parties exchange information pertinent to the case. Texas also encourages alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration and mediation to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. Unlike criminal litigation, where the state prosecutes individuals or entities for violations of criminal law, civil litigation is typically between private parties, though the government can also be a party in civil cases. The outcomes of civil litigation can include financial compensation, injunctions, or declaratory judgments, but do not involve criminal penalties such as imprisonment or probation.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

28 U.S.C. Chapter 85 - District Courts; Jurisdiction
This chapter outlines the jurisdiction of federal district courts over civil actions.

28 U.S.C. Chapter 85 establishes the jurisdiction of federal district courts in civil cases. It includes provisions for federal question jurisdiction (cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States), diversity jurisdiction (cases between citizens of different states or between a citizen and a foreign state/entity), and supplemental jurisdiction (state law claims related to federal questions). This chapter is fundamental in determining whether a civil case can be heard in federal court.

28 U.S.C. Chapter 87 - District Courts; Venue
This chapter provides the rules for determining the proper venue for civil actions in federal courts.

28 U.S.C. Chapter 87 sets forth the rules for venue in civil actions. Venue refers to the geographic location where a lawsuit can be filed. The chapter includes provisions for general venue, change of venue, and venue in cases involving multiple defendants or corporate parties. It is designed to ensure that cases are brought in a location that is fair and convenient for the parties.

28 U.S.C. Chapter 91 - District Courts; Removal of Cases from State Courts
This chapter governs the procedures for removing a civil case from a state court to a federal court.

28 U.S.C. Chapter 91 outlines the process by which a defendant can remove a civil action filed in state court to federal court. This is typically done when the case involves a federal question or when there is diversity of citizenship between the parties. The chapter details the notice of removal, the timing for removal, and the procedure for remanding cases back to state court if removal was improper.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the United States district courts.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) provide the framework for conducting civil litigation in federal courts. They cover all procedural aspects of a civil case, from the initial filing through appeal. Key areas include pleadings, motions, discovery, trials, and judgments. The FRCP ensures fairness and efficiency in the legal process and is designed to provide a uniform procedure for all civil cases in federal courts.

Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16)
This act provides the legal basis for the enforcement of arbitration agreements and the conduct of arbitration proceedings in the United States.

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) establishes a strong federal policy favoring arbitration agreements. It applies to any arbitration agreement within the scope of interstate commerce or involving maritime transactions. The FAA provides the procedures for enforcing arbitration agreements, initiating arbitration proceedings, and confirming or vacating arbitration awards. It preempts state laws that limit the enforceability of arbitration agreements, ensuring that such agreements are as enforceable as other contracts.

Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
This act expands federal jurisdiction over certain large class-action lawsuits.

The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) amends the procedures for class action lawsuits and expands federal jurisdiction over them. It allows for federal jurisdiction in class actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and where any member of a plaintiff class is a citizen of a state different from any defendant. CAFA also includes provisions for notice to class members and review of proposed settlements, aiming to protect class members' rights and interests.