I need to know if I can use federal cases, federal civil procedures, etc. in my argument? Also, what happens if the Defendant does not file his answers to my complaint within 20 days? Lastly, how many days do I have to submit my response to the objections?
The defendant has filed preliminary objections, so he/she does not have to file an answer to your complaint until the Pennsylvania court rules on his/her preliminary objections., You should compare the objections with Rule 1028(a), to determine if you need to respond to the objection.
You have three ways to respond to the defendant's preliminary objections. If the court sustains the objections, your complaint will be dismissed. The judge will give you 20 days from the date of the order to file an amended complaint. If the court overrules the objections, then the defendant has 20 days to file a responsive pleading.
First, You can object to their preliminary objections for specific reasons cited in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. For example, if the preliminary objections raise inconvenient forum, then the objections should be overruled because they violate R.1028(a) and R. 1006(d). Local rules of civil procedure will tell you how many days you have to object. In Philadelphia, You have 20 days to object to the defendant's preliminary objections.
Second, You may also respond to the objections. You have 20 days to respond in writing to the preliminary objections. This is based on Philadelphia local rule 1028(c)(3). Your county will also have local court rules. I don't know what county you are in; so, you should talk to the court clerk to determine if local rules extend your time to file a response to the objections. Generally, if you do not respond, the court considers the objections uncontested and will sustain the objections.
Third, You may also voluntarily amend the complaint within 20 days. If you file your amended complaint, the court clerk will mark the defendant's objections moot. This is based on Pennsylvania Rule 1028(c)(1).
Since you are in state court, no, you cannot cite to federal rules of civil procedure. You are bound by the state and local county rules of civil procedure. I do not suggest that you cite to federal cases; since you are in state court, I would assume that the issue is state-specific. Of course, you can litigate a federal issue in state court, but that rarely happens. So, I suggest that you cite to state law, and actually, that you cite to cases from your local court. A colleague’s opinion will be more persuasive to your judge, than an opinion from Superior Court. You will need to visit the law library for research. Ask the librarian for help regarding the hierarchy of cases and what would be most persuasive to your judge in your case.
In general, you could cite federal cases, which are often decided under state law, but using any case that doesn't use PA law, whether decided by federal or state court, probably isn't going to persuade a court of the correctness of your position.
I have to file a response to preliminary objections in a court of common pleas in PA. Am I able to reference federal cases?
If the defendant doesn't file a response to preliminary objections and serve a timely response, you could request entry of their default.
I strongly suggest hiring a lawyer. Not having one puts you at a big disadvantage, not just because pro per litigants have lousy track records, but because you seem unfamiliar with the rules of the court you filed your case in. Further, as a pro per, you can't seek attorney's fees when in a discovery dispute. If the opposing party gets one, you'll be out-litigated and out-leveraged very quickly.
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You can always cite to relevant federal cases. However, state court judges generally prefer state court decisions for controlling case law. I suggest you consult with a local attorney.
Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.