The Parable of the Forms

Why is it so hard to have a single uniform procedure?


The aspiration of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to have a single uniform procedure for every kind of case. As others have noted, including Alexandra Lahav and David Marcus, there is increasing pressure for procedural specialization, for having different kinds of procedures for different kinds of cases. If this question interests you–or you've ever wondered about the forms of action and why we've gotten rid of them (if we have)–you might enjoy "The Parable of the Forms."

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  1. Actually, the really annoying thing I find is the difference between local practices. The procedure to, say, raise a discovery dispute with the court varies widely by district.

    (And those ruled lines on the sides of papers filed with the court, used in California and some other jurisdictions, are a royal pain.)

    1. I find much worse the difference between software in different districts. (I’m thinking of federal ECF, but I’m sure similar problems arise at the state level.) It’s all the CM/ECF system, and yet each district uses a subset of all the possible filing categories. In one district you file a proposed joint pretrial order via ECF; in another they’ve removed/never implemented that option, so you have to email it to the judge, or sometimes to the court clerk.

  2. Just live and let live, and encourage reciprocity where you can. People understand.

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