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Pleading and Access to Civil Procedure: Historical and Comparative Reflections on Iqbal, a Day in Court and a Decision According to Law


James R. Maxeiner


University of Baltimore - School of Law

March 26, 2010

Penn State Law Review, Vol. 114, p. 1257, 2010
University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper

Abstract:     
The Iqbal decision confirms the breakdown of contemporary American civil procedure. We know what civil procedure should do, and we know that our civil procedure is not doing it. Civil procedure should facilitate determining rights according to law. It should help courts and parties apply law to facts accurately, fairly, expeditiously and efficiently. This article reflects on three historic American system failures and reports a foreign success story.

Pleadings can help courts do what we know courts should do: decide case on the merits, accurately, fairly, expeditiously and efficiently. Pleadings facilitate a day in court when focused on deciding according to law. Pleadings are, however, only part of the process of determining rights and of applying law to facts. They cannot do it all. Their utility is limited by the interdependent nature of determining law and finding facts to apply law to facts.

The United States has had three principal systems of civil procedure; all three have failed. The United States has used three principal forms of pleading - common law pleading, fact pleading, and notice pleading; all three have proven in-adequate. None has achieved both accuracy and expedition; none has managed both fairness and efficiency. Although wildly different in what they have required of pleading, all three systems of civil procedure have shared common flaws: they have expected too much of lawyers and not enough of judges. They have allowed issue deciding to substitute for law applying.

Since 1877 Germany has had only one system of civil procedure; that system has worked well. It has stood the test of time. Its unchallenged and unchanged basic principle is that parties provide facts and courts apply law. Da mihi factum, dabo tibi jus. Parties and courts cooperate. Pleading is only the beginning of that cooperation. Pleading leads directly to a day in court. Pleading directs the court down the path to a decision according to law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: Civil Procedure, Pleading, Iqbal, Twombly, Conley, Summary Judgment, Comparative Law, Pretrial Conference, Fact Pleading, Notice Pleading, German, Germany, Civil Law, Sunderland, Clark, Federal Rules, Open Courts, Discovery

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Date posted: March 28, 2010 ; Last revised: November 4, 2011

Suggested Citation

Maxeiner, James R., Pleading and Access to Civil Procedure: Historical and Comparative Reflections on Iqbal, a Day in Court and a Decision According to Law (March 26, 2010). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 114, p. 1257, 2010; University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1579196

Contact Information

James R. Maxeiner (Contact Author)
University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )
1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
410-837-4628 (Phone)
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