Court procedure


Court rules contain procedural and other information and apply to every case. See the Court rules page for more information.

Criminal court and civil court cases compared

Criminal laws determine if someone commits a crime. The determination about whether to charge someone with a crime and pursue the case in court is made by the government. After a person is arrested and charged with a crime, that person has a criminal case.

Civil law refers to almost all other disputes. These are the laws that apply when a person. business, or agency sues another person, business, or agency. All of these cases are civil cases.


General information about civil lawsuits

Guides from the Administrative Office of the Courts

The United States District Court - Western District of Washington

Self-help kit from the law library

self-help form kits

The law library sells a Start a Civil Lawsuit in Superior Court self-help kit with forms and instructions to start a civil lawsuit in Superior Court against a person. It does not cover procedures after the initial filing and is not intended for District Court. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

Formatting court documents

Serving court documents

You can search online for private process servers. The Clark County Sheriff's Office Civil Unit also serves legal documents throughout the county for a fee. There is no fee associated with service of protection orders.

Responding to (answering) a lawsuit

  • Information and forms to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection. The material is general enough to use in many other types of cases.
  • Information and forms if you live out of state and were served with a complaint or petition filed in Washington State courts.
  • Civil Court Rules 8 and 12 for Superior Court and for District Court talk about defenses, including affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses need to be proven by the person who is claiming them. A successful affirmative defense can mean that the defendant has no liability, even if all of the allegations in the complaint are true.

More information and forms are available at the Law Library.

Doing discovery (collecting evidence)

  • A video about discovery from the King County Law Library
  • Information and forms on Subpoenaing Witnesses and Documents from Washington LawHelp
  • Information about, “Doing Discovery” in Family Law Cases: Interrogatories and Requests for Production, from Washington LawHelp. Interrogatories and requests for production are two ways to collect evidence.
  • Court rules about discovery for either District (Limited Jurisdiction) or Superior Court

Materials and example forms are available from the Law Library.

Submitting evidence

More information about evidence is available from the Law Library.

Free eBooks about court procedure

Represent Yourself in Court book cover

How to find court procedure eBooks

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