Forms of Action

An action is the formal complaint within the jurisdiction of a court of law. It is an ordinary proceeding in a court of justice by which one party prosecutes another for the enforcement or protection of a right, the redress or prevention of a wrong, or the punishment of a public offense. Attorneys, clerks, courts, and court divisions varied significantly in the use of correct names of the many forms of action. The editors have indicated the action for each case and have standardized some usage. In some instances, the action in the database and the action in the record may seem inconsistent, but the application of standardized action names was necessary for effective searching.

While the forms of action in the common law division of the circuit courts are usually very specific, in the chancery division, forms of action can be less specific. For example, bill in chancery is a common form of action in the chancery division. Similarly, appeals from inferior courts were routinely identified as appeal, regardless of the form of action of the original case. While editors have retained this common usage of general forms of action, the subject of the case is captured and searchable.

See Pleading and Practice for a complete discussion of forms of action.