First Assignment Spring 2020

Civil Procedure - Kevin F. O'Neill

LAW 513 Section 2


In this course you will learn how to try a civil case in federal court.

There are two required books:

(1) O'CONNOR'S FEDERAL RULES—CIVIL TRIALS 2019 (Thomson Reuters) (ISBN 9781539206774), which I'll refer to as your "Rules Handbook." This book contains all of the rules and statutes that you'll be learning this semester. It also contains "commentaries" that provide helpful instruction on how to carry out many of the procedural maneuvers that we'll study.

(2) Erichson, INSIDE CIVIL PROCEDURE (3d ed. 2018) (Wolters Kluwer) (ISBN 9781454892526). This book provides a clear, concise overview of all the topics we'll study this semester.

As you can see, I teach this course without a traditional casebook. Instead, I have created 47 "Problems" that pose real-world questions in specific factual settings. Answering my questions—i.e., applying the rules and statutes to those fact patterns—will be the main way that you learn Civil Procedure. We will certainly read some cases in this class, but those cases (and all of the Problems) will be posted on my course web page, which you'll find on the Law School's website when the semester begins. (Specifically, you'll find it among the "Online Course Materials" after clicking on "Academics.") Here is the password for gaining access to my course web page: 513oneill20.

How will you know what to read for each class? The reading assignments are not in my Syllabus. Instead, the reading assignments appear on the first page of each Problem. After every class session, I will send you an email message telling you which Problems we'll cover in our next class session. The Problems drive this course.

How will you make use of the two books listed above? The Rules Handbook will provide the resources you'll need to answer almost every question posed by my Problems. INSIDE CIVIL PROCEDURE will give you a concise, big-picture understanding of every major topic to be covered in this course. As we move through the semester, the Problems will direct you to read an excerpt from INSIDE CIVIL PROCEDURE every time we enter a new section of this course.

In our first few class sessions, we won't be doing any Problems at all. Instead, I'll give you an introduction to the Civil Rules and to the path of a civil suit.

For our first class session, please read the following materials in your Rules Handbook.

(1) United States Constitution, Article III, section 1, and the first four lines of section 2. [Rules Handbook, page 1690.]

(2) The Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2071(a) and 2072(a). [Rules Handbook, pages 1621-22.]

(3) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 1 and 3. [Rules Handbook, page 963.] Don't worry about the publisher's "Annotations," which take up most of the page. Simply focus on the text of each rule. (Rule 1 is only two sentences long; Rule 3 is only one sentence long.) If I want you to read an annotation this semester, I will specifically assign it.

(4) Finally, please scan the table of contents to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (focusing on page 961 of the Rules Handbook), which will give you an overview of their scope.

I look forward to seeing you at our first class session—on Monday morning, January 13, commencing at 10:00 in Room 201.


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