The Michigan Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by Michigan state courts except where the limited jurisdiction of a court makes a rule inherently inapplicable or where a rule applicable to a specific court or a specific type of proceeding provides a different procedure. The rules govern civil actions. The rules are promulgated for the smooth and efficient functioning of state courts.
In Michigan a civil action commences by filing of a complaint with the court. Generally, a complaint is accompanied by an affidavit of indigency. Party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the adverse party is called the defendant. A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. According to Rule 2.102, once a complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue the required summons to the defendant(s).
Pleadings in Michigan courts include the following: complaint, answer to complaint, counter claim, answer to counter claim, cross claim, answer to cross claim, third party complaint, answer to third party complaint and reply to an answer.
Generally, a civil action should be filed in the name of the real party in interest. If the party in interest is a minor or incompetent person s/he should be represented by a conservator. If a minor or incompetent person does not have a conservator to represent as plaintiff, the court will appoint a competent and responsible person as next friend. If the minor or incompetent person does not have a conservator to represent as defendant, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem.
Parties my obtain discovery by depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.
In pretrial procedures, the court may direct the attorneys for the parties to appear for a conference by its own initiative or on request of a party. The court issues reasonable notice for scheduling the conference and there may be more than one conference in a civil action. The pretrial conference is aimed at:
- simplifying the issues;
- deciding the amount of time necessary for discovery;
- deciding the necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
- discussing the possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
- deciding the number of expert witnesses;
- consolidating the actions for trial, separation of issues, and order of trial when some issues are to be tried by a jury and some by the court;
- discussing the possibility of settlement;
- deciding if mediation, case evaluation, or some other form of alternative dispute resolution would be appropriate for the case , and what mechanisms are available to provide such services;
- identifying the witnesses to testify at trial;
- estimating length of trial;
- deciding if all claims arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the action have been joined as required by MCR 2.203(A);
- discussing other matters that may aid in the disposition of the action.
At the trial stage, a party may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree or an order upon which an appeal is permissible. Generally, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.