In the District of Columbia, Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed in all suits of a civil nature in the Civil Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In the District of Columbia, a civil action commences with the filing of complaint with the Court. A party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. Once a complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue the required summons to the defendant(s). A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage.
Different types of pleadings in the District of Columbia courts are: Complaint, Answer to Complaint, Counter claim, Reply to counterclaim, Cross claim, Reply to cross claim, Third party complaint and Third party answer. A complaint should be filed by the real party in interest. If the real party in interest is a minor or incompetent person, the person’s representative should file the complaint. If a minor or incompetent person does not have a representative, s/he may file the action through a next friend or a guardian ad litem. The courts, if found necessary will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor or incompetent person.
Parties may obtain discovery by:
- depositions upon oral examination or written questions;
- written interrogatories;
- requests for admission;
- request for production of documents or things;
- request for permission to enter into land or other property for inspection or other purpose; and/or
- request for physical and mental examinations.
After the commencement of the action but not later than ten days after the service of the last pleading directed to such issue, a party may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment includes a decree or an order upon which an appeal is permissible. Generally, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.