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Commencement of Action
Commencement of Action
This information came from an FJC online article.
A civil action in a federal court begins with the filing of a written complaint
in the clerk’s office. The case is then assigned a number, usually
referred to as a “docket number,” containing two parts: the last two
digits of the year in which the case was filed, and a number that is
assigned consecutively as suits are filed in each calendar year, usually
beginning with number 101 (but in some courts beginning with the
number 1). The prefix “Cr.” or “C.A.” indicates whether the case is a
criminal or civil action. Thus, the thirty-seventh civil case filed in 1988
would be assigned the number C.A. 88-137. (In those courts where
suits begin with the number 1, the case number would be C.A. 88-37.)
In a multijudge court, the clerk’s office, through a preestablished random
selection process, immediately assigns the case to a particular judge
for handling and ultimate disposition. The clerk then adds a section
designation, usually a letter, to the docket number to indicate the section
of the district court to which the case has been assigned or to
indicate in which division of the court the case was filed.
The clerk’s office maintains the complete record of the case, a case
file, or docket sheet (which includes notations to reflect the progress of
the case), and alphabetical indices by parties’ names (which allow retrieval
of the number of a case).
*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***
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