Law 101

Civil Procedure

Common types of civil lawsuits include breach of contract, personal injury, negligence and real estate issues. Filing a lawsuit with the court is the first step any plaintiff in a civil case must take to ask the court to decide a dispute. These first papers filed with the court identify who is being sued the basis for the lawsuit, and the court in which the lawsuit is filed. Taking this step causes the court to create a file for the case, and issue a case number. Filing a response is an important first step for any defendant in a civil lawsuit. By filing a response, the defendant establishes that they are contesting the case and requiring the plaintiff to prove their case at trial in order to win.

Community Resources

Document review. For Help
SH@LL (Self Help @ the Law Library)
Handshake Alternative to Court
Sacramento Mediation Center


The Judicial Council creates many of the forms needed for a civil lawsuit in California state courts. Sacramento County Superior Court also creates forms for use in this county specifically. For other situations, you may need to create your own forms. Our Legal Research Guides and Step by Steps have instructions and samples for many commonly-used forms.

Form Resources

Court Summons Judicial Council Forms These California-wide forms can be filled out online, and printed for filing.
Legal forms Sacramento County Local Forms These forms are for use only in Sacramento County.
Update Address or Other Contact Info Helps you file a Change of Address in California courts.
Federal Courthouse fountain United States District Courts The national forms for use in Federal courts.


The Law Librarians created these pamphlets in response to frequently asked questions on subjects not appropriate for more substantive guides.

Common Questions

Articles are written by Law Librarians on a variety of common legal issues.


Videos from the Sacramento County Public Law Library

Case Management video Completing Your Case Management Statement Provides background and explanation of the Case Management Program forms.
How to Serve Court Papers by Mail Explains how to serve documents by mail and complete the Proof of Service form.
Personal service video Personal Service of Court Papers Explains the proper personal service of court papers, and the Proof of Service form.
Football video If You Understand Football... Explains the different stages of a civil lawsuit.
See you in Court Video See You in Court! How to Start a Civil Lawsuit in Sacramento Describes the steps of writing, filing and serving a civil complaint.
Court system video Court System: Who Are the Players? What Do They Do? Sacramento County Superior Court staff discuss the roles of various court personnel.