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Court Rules Research Guide: Interpreting 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 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.

Rules may include an interpretation section on how the rules are to be interpreted generally. For example, "Rule 2 Interpretation" of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides: "These rules are to be interpreted to provide for the just determination of every criminal proceeding, to secure simplicity in procedure and fairness in administration, and to eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay." (As amended Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002)

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. One example of this is "Rule 1. Scope of Rules; Definition; Title" of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Rule 1. text is followed by Notes of the Advisory Committee on Rules and the Committee Notes on Rules for the various amendments. This may serve as persuasive authority for how a rule is to be interpreted. The US Courts website provides access to the Records and Archives of the Rules Committee. These records may provide detailed information about intent behind proposed or recommended rule amendments.

Case law research may be needed to determine how a rule has been interpreted by the courts. The application of federal court rules to specific situations are sometimes litigated. Listed below are sources for finding cases that interpret federal rules.

Annotated Version of the Court Rules

Case Reporters and Digests

Most cases that interpret federal court rules can be found in the federal case reporters: the Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement. However, some cases are published only in specialized case reporters and digests.

Citators

A citator lists cases, statutes and other sources of law that show their history. Citators are used to determine whether a case or other authority is still "good law" and to find other authorities that have cited to a particular case, statute, regulation, etc. The two best-known electronic citation services are KeyCite (Westlaw) and Shepard's (Lexis). Access may be restricted to members of the Marquette Law School community. Using either of these services will provide citations to court cases that have interpreted court rules and to secondary sources that provide analysis and commentary.

Federal Court Rules Quick Chart

COURT RULES

UNANNOTATED 

ANNOTATED (Print: U.S. Code Annotated & U.S. Code Service)

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Appendix to Title 28 USC Appendix to Title 28 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Appendix to Title 18 USC Appendix to Title 18 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Appendix to Title 28 USC Appendix to Title 28 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Federal Rules of Evidence Appendix to Title 28 USC Appendix to Title 28 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Appendix to Title 11 USC Appendix to Title 11 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Rules of the Supreme Court of the U.S. US Supreme Court webpage Appendix to Title 28 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes
Rules of the U.S. Tax Court US Tax Court webpage Appendix to Title 26 USCA & USCS Rules Volumes

 

Find a Federal Court

Locate a federal court using the Court Locator page on the United States Courts website.

Image result for us courts map

 

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