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procedure,in law, the rules that govern the obtaining of legal redress. This article deals only with civil procedure in Anglo-American law (for criminal procedure, see criminal lawcriminal law,
the branch of law that defines crimes, treats of their nature, and provides for their punishment. A tort is a civil wrong committed against an individual; a crime, on the other hand, is regarded as an offense committed against the public, even though only one
..... Click the link for more information. ). Except for evidenceevidence,
in law, material submitted to a judge or a judicial body to resolve disputed questions of fact. The rules discussed in this article were developed in England for use in jury trials.
..... Click the link for more information. , procedure conventionally embraces all matters concerning legal actions that come to trial; thus, procedure is the means for enforcing the rights guaranteed by the substantive law.
Current Civil Procedure
A legal action, in its simplest form, is a proceeding of a plaintiff against a defendant from whom redress is sought. The plaintiff begins a lawsuit by filing a complaint, a written statement of his or her claim and the relief desired, with a court that has jurisdiction (authority to hear the case). The defendant is served a process (e.g., a summons) that notifies him or her of the suit and usually responds with an answer. Failure to respond ordinarily entitles the plaintiff to a judgment by default.
Today, liberal rules of pretrial discovery allow parties to a civil action to obtain information from other parties and their witnesses through depositions and other devices. Discovery (i.e., disclosure) is now used to ascertain the facts believed by the other side to exist, and to narrow the issues to be tried. At common lawcommon law,
system of law that prevails in England and in countries colonized by England. The name is derived from the medieval theory that the law administered by the king's courts represented the common custom of the realm, as opposed to the custom of local jurisdiction that
..... Click the link for more information. , pleadings performed this function, and they were continued beyond the complaint and answer until an issue was agreed upon.
The issue is one of law if the defendant denies that the alleged acts are a violation of substantive law entitling the plaintiff to relief; it is one of fact if the defendant denies committing any of the alleged acts. The judge rules on an issue of law, and if the judge upholds the defendant the suit is dismissed. An issue of fact is resolved by the presentation of evidence to the juryjury,
body convened to make decisions of fact in legal proceedings. Development of the Modern Jury
Historians do not agree on the origin of the English jury.
..... Click the link for more information. , or, in cases tried without a jury, by the judge. After the jury has delivered a verdict on the factual issue, the judge renders a judgmentjudgment,
decision of a court of law respecting the issues before it. The term ordinarily is not applied to the decree (order) of courts of equity. The outstanding characteristic of a legal judgment, in contrast to an equitable decree, is its finality and fixity; thus, except
..... Click the link for more information. , which in most (but by no means all) instances upholds the verdict. At this point the case is closed (unless the losing party prosecutes an appealappeal,
in law, hearing by a superior court to consider correcting or reversing the judgment of an inferior court, because of errors allegedly committed by the inferior court.
..... Click the link for more information. ), and the plaintiff, if having won, proceeds to execution of the judgment.
Evolution of Procedural Law
Current procedural law has had a long historical evolution. The early common law allowed an action to be brought only if it closely conformed to a writwrit,
in law, written order issued in the name of the sovereign or the state in connection with a judicial or an administrative proceeding. Usually the writ requires the person to whom the command is issued to report at a fixed time (the return day) with proof of compliance or a
..... Click the link for more information. . Rigorous enforcement of the rule "no writ, no right," and the small number of available writs acted to deny relief even in meritorious cases and stimulated the growth of equityequity,
principles of justice originally developed by the English chancellor. In Anglo-American jurisprudence equitable principles and remedies are distinguished from the older system that the common law courts evolved.
..... Click the link for more information. , which, in its early days, gave redress generously.
By the 19th cent., however, the technical intricacy of equity and law procedure and the tendency to make cases hinge on procedural details rather than on substantive rights made reform imperative. The way was led by the New York code of civil procedure of 1848 (largely the work of David Dudley FieldField, David Dudley,
1805–94, American lawyer and law reformer, b. Haddam, Conn.; brother of Cyrus W. Field and Stephen J. Field. He was graduated from Williams (1825), studied law in Albany and New York City, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and soon had a large practice
..... Click the link for more information. ), which abolished the distinction between law and equity (thereby effecting great simplification) and established the cause of action as the procedural cornerstone. A similar reform was accomplished in Great Britain by the Judicature Acts of 1875. Today the procedure of most American jurisdictions is based on codes (like that of New York) rather than on common law and equity, although the influence of these separate categories is still frequently discernible.
See J. Michael, The Elements of Legal Controversy (1948); P. Carrington, Civil Procedure (1969).
procedure(1) Manual procedures are human tasks.
(2) Machine procedures are lists of programs or operating system functions to be executed. A mainframe uses job control language (JCL). Unix systems use shell scripts. Windows machines use batch files.
(3) In programming, a procedure is another term for a subroutine or function.