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Civil Lawsuits: Suing and Being Sued

The law library has many resources for people starting or responding to lawsuits.

Note: Most of the listed resources are for California state courts only. If you are dealing with a federal lawsuit, see our Federal Primary Law Guide. Your local federal court may have online information, a law library, or a clinic that can assist you. Find your local court at the United States Courts homepage.


These organizations may provide assistance with some aspects of civil cases. Contact these organizations directly for more information about the services provided.

Sacramento County Public Law Library Civil Self Help Center
609 9th Street, Sacramento 95814
Services Provided: The Sacramento County Public Law Library Civil Self Help Center provides general information and basic assistance to self-represented litigants on a variety of civil legal issues.  Appointments will be made beginning at 8:30 a.m. Patrons who are present at 8:30 a.m. will be entered into a random drawing to determine the order their case will be evaluated. If an appointment is appropriate, it will be made for later in the day. You are encouraged to arrive by 8:25 a.m. to participate in the appointment setting drawing.
Eligibility: Must be a Sacramento County resident or have a qualifying case in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

Sacramento Mediation Center  916-441-7979
1418 20th Street, Suite #201, Sacramento, California 95811
Services provided: Conciliation and mediation services in neighborhood, landlord/tenant, real estate, family, commercial, organization, consumer/merchant, employer/employee, victim/offender and other disputes. Mediation services are not provided for physical or sexual assault cases.
Fee for service. Contact for pricing information.

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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 Research Guides & Step by Steps have instructions and samples for many commonly-used forms.

Judicial Council Forms (
These mandatory forms can be filled out online.

Sacramento County Local Court Forms (
These cannot be filled out online. You can print them out and complete them by hand.

Sacramento County Public Law Library has prepared forms for some common situations for which there is no Judicial Council or local form.

The Federal (United States District) Courts provide sample Federal Court forms for some situations:

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The Law Librarians have created these research guides as an aid for those starting a legal research project. These guides recommend print and electronic resources that will help you find answers to your law-related questions. Guides marked "Step-by-Step"  provide step-by-step information, as well as sample forms, for common legal procedures. 

For Plaintiffs

For Defendants

Court Procedures


Numerous guides and resources are listed on our Discovery topic page.


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Everyday Law and Ask the County Law Librarian articles are written by Law Librarians on a variety of common legal issues.

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


Videos from other libraries and courts:

  • "So You're Thinking of Filing a Lawsuit?" (San Mateo Self-Help Center)
  • "I Have a Case in Court, Now What?" (San Mateo Self-Help Center)
  • Going Into the Courtroom (California Courts) This clip identifies some of the people and features of every courtroom and how you can expect to interact with them during your trial.
  • How to Dress for Court (California Courts) Proper attire is important when appearing in court. This clip covers the elements of how to dress and present yourself for your hearing.
  • Evidence (California Courts) This video clip provides an overview of different types of how evidence functions in the courtroom.
  • Relevant Evidence (California Courts) This clip covers the basics of introducing and referring to evidence in court.
  • Resolving Your Debt Collection Case (English, Russian, Spanish) (California Courts) This video provides information about the options for resolving many types of debts, before or after a court action is filed.
  • Testimony (California Courts) This clip covers the basics of witness testimony in a court case
  • Objections (California Courts) This clip offers an overview of objections, including an explanation of how they work and descriptions of the different types of objections.

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Hear our very own librarians share legal tips and news you can use on general interest topics.