Vanderbilt Law Review


George W. Pugh

First Page



Procedure represents the body of doctrinal rules which prescribe the etiquette of counsel and courts. It deals with the means, not the ends of litigation, and in a purely theoretical sense, it may be set apart from the so-called "substantive rights" which give procedure its life and meaning. But, of course, from a practical standpoint, the two are inseparable. Since procedure exists solely to complement and implement the "rights" afforded by law, it might appear that the body of procedural doctrine would be but a compendium of pragmatically proved efficient conduct. The articulate law student can provide ample evidence to the contrary.

At their inception individual procedural rules may actually represent what is then conceived to be the most efficient method of implementing the right in question. But legal history shows that procedures become habit, stylized and ritualized. Legal reform has not always been reflected in correlative procedural change. The "law may change, but procedures fail to fade away," and may perhaps remind the literary of the grimace of the disembodied cat.' To many lawyers, their procedural knowledge represents a substantial part of their skill, their stock in trade. Tampering with such vested interests quite naturally meets with stern rebuff. Yes, it is no wonder that procedural reform moves slowly.

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