Current Rules of Practice & Procedure
Below are links to the national federal rules and forms in effect, as well as local rules (which are required to be consistent with the national rules) prescribed by district courts and courts of appeal.
Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (eff. Dec. 1, 2018) govern procedure in the United States courts of appeals. The Supreme Court first adopted the Rules of Appellate Procedure by order dated December 4, 1967, transmitted to Congress on January 15, 1968, and effective July 1, 1968. The Appellate Rules and accompanying forms were last amended in 2018.
Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (eff. Dec. 1, 2018) govern procedures for bankruptcy proceedings. For many years, such proceedings were governed by the General Orders and Forms in Bankruptcy promulgated by the Supreme Court. By order dated April 24, 1973, effective October 1, 1973, the Supreme Court prescribed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2075, the Bankruptcy Rules and Official Bankruptcy Forms, which abrogated previous rules and forms. Over the years, the Bankruptcy Rules and Official Forms have been amended many times, most recently in 2018.
Interim Bankruptcy Rule 1007-I
The National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-438, as amended by Public Law No.114-107, provides a temporary exclusion from the bankruptcy means test for certain reservists and members of the National Guard. At the request of the Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules, Interim Rule 1007-I was transmitted to the courts for adoption as a local rule to implement the temporary exclusion.
Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (eff. Dec. 1, 2018) govern civil proceedings in the United States district courts. Their purpose is "to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. The rules were first adopted by order of the Supreme Court on December 20, 1937, transmitted to Congress on January 3, 1938, and effective September 16, 1938. The Civil Rules were last amended in 2018.
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (eff. Dec 1, 2018) govern criminal proceedings and prosecutions in the U.S. district courts, the courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court. Their purpose is 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." Fed. R. Crim. P. 2. The original rules were adopted by order of the Supreme Court on December 26, 1944, transmitted to Congress on January 3, 1945, and effective March 21, 1946. The rules have since been amended numerous times, most recently in 2018.
The Federal Rules of Evidence (eff. Dec. 1, 2018) govern the admission or exclusion of evidence in most proceedings in the United States courts. The Supreme Court submitted proposed Federal Rules of Evidence to Congress on February 5, 1973, but Congress exercised its power under the Rules Enabling Act to suspend their implementation. The Federal Rules of Evidence became federal law on January 2, 1975, when President Ford signed the Act to Establish Rules of Evidence for Certain Courts and Proceedings, Pub. L. No. 93-595. As enacted, the Evidence Rules included amendments by Congress to the rules originally proposed by the Supreme Court. The most recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence were adopted in 2017.
Rules Governing Section 2254 and Section 2255 Proceedings
Generally, the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts govern habeas corpus petitions filed in a United States district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a person in custody challenging his or her current or future custody under a state-court judgment on the grounds that such custody violates the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. The Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts govern motions to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Such motions must be filed in the sentencing court by a person in custody attacking the sentence imposed on the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.
The Supreme Court submitted proposed rules and forms governing proceedings under Section 2254 and Section 2255 to Congress on April 26, 1976, but Congress exercised its power under the Rules Enabling Act to suspend their implementation. The Rules Governing Section 2254 and Section 2255 Proceedings, as amended by Congress, became federal law on September 28, 1976, and made applicable to petitions filed under Section 2254 and motions filed under section 2255 on or after February 1, 1977. Pub. L. No. 94-426. The rules were last amended in 2009.
Rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The Rules of Procedure for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were promulgated pursuant to 50 U.S.C. § 1803(g). They govern all proceedings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and were last amended in 2010.
Local Court Rules
United States district courts and courts of appeals often prescribe local rules governing practice and procedure. Such rules must be consistent with both Acts of Congress and the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure, and may only be prescribed after notice and an opportunity for public comment. A court's authority to prescribe local rules is governed by both statute and the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2071(a)-(b); Fed. R. App. P. 47; Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9029; Fed. R. Civ. P. 83; Fed. R. Crim. P. 57.
Section 205 of the E-Government Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-347, requires that federal courts post local rules on their websites. Visit the Court Locator for a listing of all federal court websites.