**** The information written here is not legal advice and the author of this blog is not your lawyer. These posts merely contain ideas to help you plan and organize your legal research and identify potentially helpful sources of law. ****
Legal forms can be accessed from http://forms.justia.com/. Another strategy for locating court forms online is to look for a link to “documents” or something similar on the court’s Web site. http://www.ncsc.org/Information-and-Resources/Browse-by-State/State-Court-Websites.aspx The Law Librarians Resource Exchange maintains an easy interface for locating state and federal court rules and forms at http://www.llrx.com/courtrules.
Documents filed in court should be typed and submitted on clean paper. This is not always a rule or a legal requirement, but it is an expectation. Courts will often accept handwritten documents as long as they contain the necessary information and are submitted to the proper office at the appropriate time. Lawyers, who are professionally obligated to show respect to the court, always file typewritten documents.
Filing neat and properly executed documents not only shows respect for the court, it also provides the opponent with the clearest possible presentation of your message.Generally, all court documents must have a caption on the first page and must be in specific order, depending on the purpose of the particular document. The caption usually tells who is suing whom and lists the name of the court, the date of the filing, and the docket number for the case. The docket number is assigned when the first document of the case is filed with the court clerk. On all documents filed after the first one, litigants must include that docket number so that their documents get filed with the same case.
There are lots of books full of sample legal forms. Law libraries will have those books. Typically, they can only be used as examples. It is rare to find a book’s fill-in-the-blank form that will be accepted by a court. Sometimes, court’s Web pages have sample forms and those can be filled-in online or else printed and filled-in. Since almost all documents filed in court become part of the public record, another way to see how to write documents is to copy and modify someone else’s pleadings.
To do so, go to the court clerk’s office and ask if there is a way to search for cases according to topic (negligence, assault, breach of contract, etc…) If there is a way for you to do that, allocate a few days in which you can dedicate yourself to looking for and reading through the documents filed in cases similar to yours. The clerk’s office will have coin operated copy machines or computer printers available.
No matter which resources tell you how to write a court document, you absolutely have to be sure the document complies with current court rules. Every court has rules about organizing and presenting documents. In fact, every court has its own rules in addition to rules from either the state or federal court system.
The rules tell how to notify an opponent that you are suing him, how to format court documents, what kind of information is required in court documents, how much time someone has in which to file a document, what options the opponent has for responding to that document and what kind of action the court will take regarding the document (i.e. whether the clerk will file it, whether a hearing will ensue, etc…).