Bill of Particulars

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Bill of Particulars

A written statement used in both civil and criminal actions that is submitted by a plaintiff or a prosecutor at the request of a defendant, giving the defendant detailed information concerning the claims or charges made against him or her.

In civil actions a bill of particulars is a written demand for the specifics of why an action at law was brought. Although usually requested by a defendant, it can be demanded by a plaintiff if the defendant makes a counterclaim for a setoff or asserts a defense against him or her. A bill can be submitted either voluntarily or pursuant to a court order for compliance with the demand. Its function is to give the party who requests it knowledge of what the opposing party has alleged in order to protect the party requesting the bill from surprise and in order to establish the real issues of the action. It also serves to expedite the orderly progress of judicial proceedings by reducing, if not eliminating, the need for the amendment of ambiguous or vague pleadings. A bill of particulars is neither a Pleading nor proof of the facts it states, but, rather, an elucidation of a pleading. It is not to be used as a discovery device to learn the evidence or strategy to be used at trial by the opposing party.

State codes of Civil Procedure impose rules that govern the use of bills of particulars in civil actions brought in state court. In federal courts the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have replaced the use of a bill of particulars with a motion for a more definite statement. If, however, the information sought by such a motion is obtainable by use of discovery mechanisms, the motion will be denied.

In Criminal Law, a bill of particulars serves the same purpose. It is submitted by the prosecution to the defendant, at the defendant's demand, to provide the facts alleged in the complaint or the indictment that related to the commission of the crime. The defendant is given notice of the offenses with which he or she is charged so that a defense may be prepared and the possibility of surprise or Double Jeopardy avoided. As in civil procedure, a bill of particulars is not intended to serve as a discovery device.

State codes of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure regulate the use of bills of particulars in criminal prosecutions in their respective courts.

bill of particulars

n. a written itemization of claims which a defendant in a law suit can demand of the plaintiff to find out what are the details of the claims. Thus, a general claim that defendant owes plaintiff $50,000 for goods delivered or damaged must be broken down so the defendant can understand and defend. In criminal cases it can give an accused person notice of the factual bases for the charges.

BILL OF PARTICULARS, practice. A detailed informal statement of a plaintiff is cause of action, or of the defendants's set-off.
     2. In all actions in which the plaintiff declares generally, without specifying his cause of action, a judge upon application will order him to give the defendant a bill of the particulars, and in the meantime stay, proceedings. 3 John. R. 248. And when the defendant gives notice or pleads a set-off, he will be required to give a bill of the particulars of his set- off, on failure of which he will be precluded from giving any evidence in support of it at the trial. The object in both cases is to prevent surprise and procure a fair trial. 1 Phil. Ev. 152; 3 Stark Ev. 1055. The bill of particulars is an account of the items of the demand, and states in what manner they arose. Mete. & Perk. Dig. h. t. For forms, see Lee's Dict. of Pr., Particulars of demand.

References in periodicals archive ?
Mulnick, the plaintiffs "ignored a demand for a bill of particulars for five years after joinder of issue.
140) The court ruled that "[p]laintiffs were not entitled to be relieved of the consequences of the default in the light of their five-year delay in making even this half-hearted effort at compliance with the demand for a bill of particulars.
147) The appellate division remitted the matter to the supreme court "without prejudice to renewal upon proper affidavits reciting facts showing a meritorious cause of action and a meritorious excuse for plaintiffs' failure to serve the bill of particulars in accordance with the terms of the preclusion order of March 6, 1959.
3041 (McKinney 1991) ("Any party may require any other party to give a bill of particulars of such party's claim, or a copy of the items of the account alleged in a pleading.
Courts will often deny a motion relating to disclosure or a bill of particulars if it is not accompanied by an affirmation of good faith effort.
8(f), applicable in supreme and county courts, if a motion relates to disclosure or a bill of particulars, and a preliminary conference has not been held, "the court shall notify all parties of a scheduled date to appear for a preliminary conference, which shall be not more than 45 days from the return date of the motion unless the court orders otherwise.
Siegel, Amendments Made on Motion Practice and Preliminary Conference; Main Effect Is on Disclosure and Bill of Particulars, 3 SIEGEL'S PRAC.
8(f) actually requires a second effort to resolve the issues raised in the motion pertaining to disclosure or a bill of particulars.
4th Dep't 2009) (noting that the conditional order precluding the plaintiffs from introducing any evidence with respect to items sought in the defendants' demand for a verified bill of particulars, in the event the plaintiffs did not comply with those demands, "was self-executing and [the plaintiffs'] failure to produce [requested] items on or before the date certain rendered it absolute," entitling the defendant to summary judgment dismissing the complaint); Hesse Const.
3042(d) (McKinney 1991) ("If a party served with a demand for a bill of particulars willfully fails to provide particulars which the court finds ought to have been provided pursuant to this rule, the court may make such final or conditional order with regard to the failure or refusal as is just, including such relief as is set forth in section thirty-one hundred twenty-six of this chapter.
The court observed that "[i]n seeking to excuse the failure to serve a medical malpractice bill of particulars in a timely fashion, a plaintiff must establish the legal merits of his case by an affidavit from a physician competent to attest to the meritorious nature of his claim.
2d 47, 48 (1985) ("We agree that absent a sufficient affidavit of merits it was error, as a matter of law, not to grant defendant Hospital's motion for summary judgment" after the plaintiff failed to satisfy a conditional order requiring production of a bill of particulars (citations omitted)); La Buda v.