How To Fill Out Central District of California Form CV-01A – Summons

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Litigation in the United States District Court, Central District of California requires litigants and their attorneys to adhere to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Local Rules and General Orders, as well as unwritten rules.  While there are a number of reasons to be in Federal Court (federal question, diversity), most of my practice in the Central District of California relates to violations of Federal civil rights under 42 United States Code section 1983, though I have appeared in other cases as well.  Here are the rules to follow for completing the form Summons.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 4 reads:

Rule 4. Summons

(a) Contents; Amendments.

(1) Contents.

A summons must:

(A) name the court and the parties;

(B) be directed to the defendant;

(C) state the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney or — if unrepresented — of the plaintiff;

(D) state the time within which the defendant must appear and defend;

(E) notify the defendant that a failure to appear and defend will result in a default judgment against the defendant for the relief demanded in the complaint;

(F) be signed by the clerk; and

(G) bear the court’s seal.

(2) Amendments.

The court may permit a summons to be amended.

(b) Issuance.

On or after filing the complaint, the plaintiff may present a summons to the clerk for signature and seal. If the summons is properly completed, the clerk must sign, seal, and issue it to the plaintiff for service on the defendant. A summons — or a copy of a summons that is addressed to multiple defendants — must be issued for each defendant to be served.

Statement of Interested Parties

As of the date of this writing, the Local Rules say:

The summons shall be prepared by the attorney upon forms supplied by the Clerk.  Central District of California Local Rule L.R. 4-1.

United States District Court Central District of California Form CV-01A is dated October 2011.  A fillable (but not saveable) PDF is available at the Central District of California’s website under “Forms.”

First, fill out the section that says “Name & Address” in the upper left hand corner. Local Rule 11-3.8 states:

(a) The name, California bar number, office address (or residence address if no office is maintained), the telephone and facsimile numbers, and the e-mail address of the attorney or a party appearing pro se presenting the document shall be placed commencing with line 1 at the left margin. The e-mail address shall be placed immediately beneath the name of the attorney. Immediately beneath, the party on whose behalf the document is presented shall be identified. All this information shall be single spaced. When a document is presented, the information set forth in this paragraph shall be supplied for each attorney or party appearing pro se who joins in the presentation of that document.

Next, fill out the caption.  The caption on the Summons should read exactly as it does on the Complaint.  The Deputy Clerk will check the Summons against the Complaint.  What happens if the room on the mandatory form is not long enough to put in all the information found in the Complaint?  Add an Attachment, on pleading paper and otherwise compliant with the local rules showing the additional information and affix it to the original Summons and the copies of the Summons.

Next, if the Complaint has already been filed without a Summons issuing, put the case number under the heading “CASE NUMBER.”

Next, add the days of service as appropriate, check the appropriate box for complaint, amended complaint, counterclaim, or cross claim, and the name and address of the attorney or pro se litigant.  The Clerk will date the Summons, sign and affix the seal to the original, and stamp the copies.

As an initiating document, the summons must be issued by the Clerk (either in person or by express delivery/mailing with a self-addressed stamped return envelope.)  Pursuant to General Order 10-07, you are required to email an issued copy of the summons in PDF format “by close of business the following day,” and pursuant to Local Rule 3.2 “within 24 hours.”  Choose the shorter of the two.

The Summons will not be filed at the time of issuance, so there is no need for blue backing and hole punching, as required by L.R. 11.5.  However, there should be an original and as many copies as there are defendants.

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