filing | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Filing, in the context of courts, is the act of submitting necessary legal documents to the court in a legal case.

Filing is an essential step in any court case. This process involves submitting different legal documents to the court. These documents range from complaints, petitions, and motions to various types of pleadings. Also included are supporting evidence or legal briefs, which make up a part of the case.

The act of handing these documents over to the court is what we refer to as “filing” the documents. This process forms a critical part of initiating and proceeding with a legal case.

Filing a Complaint or Petition

Starting a legal case usually involves a specific document. This document is often a complaint or a petition. It lists the factual allegations and legal claims forming the case’s foundation. By submitting this document, an individual or entity officially initiates the legal case.

Once this is done, the defendant in the case usually needs to respond. They do this by filing an answer to the complaint or petition. This response is their official reply to the allegations and claims raised against them.

Filing Motions and Briefs

Filing isn’t a one-time process that ends after starting a case. Throughout a case, individuals or entities can submit other types of documents. These include motions and briefs.

A motion is a formal request made to the court. The person filing the motion asks the court to take a specific action related to the case. This might involve requesting a temporary restraining order or asking the court to dismiss the case.

On the other hand, a brief is a legal document presenting an argument to the court. It provides support for the positions taken in the pleadings and motions. A well-written brief can be a powerful tool in arguing a case.

Variations in the Filing Process

The specifics of the process can differ based on the jurisdiction and the type of court. Some courts might require in-person submission of documents. Others might accept filings sent by mail or submitted electronically.

Different courts also have different requirements for the submitted documents. These might relate to the language used, the document’s format, or how the content is organized. Meeting these requirements is crucial to ensure that the court accepts the filings.


Filing is a critical part of any court case. It involves submitting necessary legal documents to the court. The documents range from the initial complaint or petition to motions and briefs filed later in the case. The specifics of the filing process can vary based on the court and jurisdiction. Understanding this process is key to navigating any legal case successfully. The act of filing allows individuals and entities to present their cases and seek justice through the court system.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/19/2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.