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Court Rules Research Guide: Interpreting State Court Rules

Court rules govern the procedures of a court and how matters before a court are handled and processed. This guide identifies resources for locating court rules.

Interpreting State Court Rules

It is sometimes necessary to determine how a court rule is to be interpreted or has been interpreted. There are a number of methods to accomplish this task, depending on the situation.

Citations to court decisions interpreting the rules may be included in a state's annotated statutes.

Case law research may be needed to determine how a rule has been interpreted by the courts. In addition to checking a state's annotated statutes, a state's digest such as West's KeyNumber Digest for a specific state as well as databases such as Lexis or Westlaw should be checked or searched.

Rules text may include an interpretation section on how the rules are to be interpreted generally.

The recommending council or committee will sometimes provide notes printed following the rule text in a "Notes" section. Insight into why a rule was drafted or amended may be included. This may serve as persuasive authority for how a rule is to be interpreted.

State Court Structure Charts

Source: Court Statistics Project - National Center for State Courts

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