Rules for Legal Greenhorns – A Kentucky Case Caption
Specific guidelines for Kentucky civil court paperwork:
- Use standard letter size (8.5 x 11 inch) opaque, non-glossy, white paper;
- Provide one inch margins on top, bottom & right (suggested) and one and one-half inch margin on left side (required by CR 7.02(4));
- Use 12 point, or larger, type size;
- Generally use regular style type, but italics or underline for case names and for emphasis;
- Use double-space lines in the main body, except for indented quotations;
- Print on one side of the paper only;
- Staple multiple pages together;
- Use black ink only, and;
- Check you local rules of court for variations to these guidelines.
It must be easy for everyone involved to quickly identify which of the many thousands of pending cases your particular piece of paper belongs with, and the specific purpose your paper is intended to serve. All the necessary identifying information must go at the top of the first page. There are variations in how this essential information is arranged, but however it is presented, the human mind must be able to understand it in the blink of an eye. The single most important piece of information is the case number. It may also be called a ’cause number’, a ‘docket number’ or possibly something else depending upon local practice and habit. However, the case number is not all there is. Here is an eight point example of a properly formatted case caption:
- At the very top is the name of the court in which the case is pending. If you have been sued, take this information from the summons and complaint that were served on you;
- The name of the county where the case is pending;
- The name of the plaintiff or plaintiffs. These are the folk doing the suing.
- Your name as defendant, who is being sued.
- “Pro se” means you don’t have a lawyer and you are representing yourself. This is not needed if you have a lawyer; but if you have a lawyer you you would not be devising your own case caption.
- The case, cause or docket number. Get it right.
- Who if filing this piece of paper. In this example it is you, the defendant.
- What is this piece of paper? In this example, it is an answer to a complaint. There are many other types of paperwork, motions or pleadings.
NOTE: The sample caption shown above uses red to highlight the different important parts of the caption. In a real pleading, use black print only.
KRCP Rule 10.01 provides:
“Every pleading shall have a caption setting forth the name of the court, the style of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7.01. In the complaint the style of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.”
Points 1 and 2 in my sample caption cover the complete “name of the court” in Rule 10.01.
The “style of the action” in Rule 10.01 means, basically, the names of the parties: Example: John Jones, Plaintiff vs. Jimmy Smith, Defendant. This would be points 3, 4 and 5 in my sample caption.
The “file number” is the case number of point 6.
A“designation as in Rule 7.01″ mentioned in Rule 10.01 means a “Complaint.” Answer to Complaint,” “Counterclaim” etc., or the type of pleading, which are points 7 and 8, above.