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Encyclopedia > Legal procedure

Legal procedure is the body of law and rules used in the administration of justice in the court system, including such areas as civil procedure, criminal procedure, appellate procedure, administrative procedure, labour procedure, and probate. Although different kinds of legal procedure are directed towards facilitating the resolution of different kinds of legal activities, all have certain things in common. All legal procedure, for example, is concerned with due process. Absent very special conditions, a court can not impose a penalty - civil or criminal - against an individual who has not received notice of the action being brought against them, or who has not received a fair opportunity to present evidence for themselves. A court is an official, public forum which a sovereign establishes by lawful authority to adjudicate disputes, and to dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. ... Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a civil action). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced, what kind of service of process is required, the types of pleadings or... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person; specifically, distributing the decedents property. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

The standardization for the means by which cases are brought, parties are informed, evidence is presented, and facts are determined is intended to maximize the fairness of any proceeding. Nevertheless, strict procedural rules have certain drawbacks. For example, they impose specific time limitations upon the parties that may either hasten or (more frequently) slow down the pace of proceedings. Furthermore, a party who is unfamiliar with procedural rules may run afoul of guidelines that have nothing to do with the merits of the case, and yet the failure to follow these guidelines may severely damage the party's chances. Procedural systems are constantly torn between arguments that judges should have greater discretion in order to avoid the rigidity of the rules, and arguments that judges should have less discretion in order to avoid an outcome based more on the personal preferences of the judge than on the law or the facts.

Legal procedure, in a larger sense, is also designed to effect the best distribution of judicial resources. For example, in most courts of general jurisdiction in the United States, criminal cases are given priority over civil cases, because criminal defendants stand to lose their freedom, and should therefore be accorded the first opportunity to have their case heard.

  Results from FactBites:
Legal technicality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (266 words)
The term legal technicality refers to the technical niceties and exactitudes of legal procedure, which is divided into criminal procedure and civil procedure.
Defenses based on technicalities are known as "procedural defenses." It is often used in a pejorative sense to denote aspects of legal procedure which, if not attended to or followed, can change the outcome of a legal proceeding in ways seemingly contrary to the interests of justice.
In almost every case, well-established technical aspects of legal procedure have been developed and reinforced in a long tradition of appellate court decisions; usually such doctrines arise because of a perceived need to protect the rights of a specific class of persons who might otherwise suffer injustice at the hands of the legal system.
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