Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “courts”

State Court Rules

State Court Rules

Our system of federalism prescribes a different set of court rules for every state. Here are two examples:

Alaska Rules of Court (http://courts.alaska.gov/rules/rules.htm#rules)
California Rules of Court    (http://www.courts.ca.gov/rules.htm)

In addition for being useful in trial scenes, state courts usually have rules for probate and so could be useful in stories about tangled inheritances.

To locate the court rules for the state in your story,  try searching your favorite search engine for [name of your state] “rules of court.” Sites with URLs ending in .us or .gov are the likeliest to be the official versions. Or at least as official as online versions are allowed to be. Many courts will only accept resources published in print as official.


US Federal Court procedures

US Federal Court procedures  – http://www.uscourts.gov/RulesAndPolicies/rules/current-rules.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • When can hearsay be admitted in federal courts?
  • What happens if a debtor dies during a bankruptcy proceeding?
  • What is an extraordinary writ and how are they handled?


If your story involves a federal courtroom, the secretive “FISA Court” or what the Feds are allowed to use as evidence, you should visit this page.

This page links to:

  • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (Appeals in Federal Court)
  • Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Federal Lawsuits)
  • Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Evidence
  • Rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

The Rules of Evidence are worth a read as they explain exceptions to the rule of hearsay, hearsay being what people testify about third parties (i.e.) “John said that Frankie ordered the hit.” The evidence rules also cover items like what can be used as evidence of character.

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