University of Denver

As Comment Period Nears Its End, IAALS and Others Share Comments and Testimony on Proposed Federal Rules Changes

Senior Director

The last of three hearings on the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is being held today in Dallas, Texas, and our Executive Director, Rebecca Love Kourlis, is among those testifying. In summary, Kourlis shared the following with the Committee:

The Committee will never find complete consensus or dispositive empirical data when what they are trying to do is change a culture. The newly released evaluations coming out of New Hampshire and the Boston Litigation Session pilot projects support the notion that the legal culture in a particular area makes a great difference in terms of the impact of new procedures. As we have all known for a long time, culture, case flow management, and rules are all components of success. But, the interrelationship does not argue for stasis: rather, it argues for leadership—and the Rules Committee is positioned to exercise just that leadership. The decision they have to make is whether they want judges managing down (rules that sweep broadly, for big cases) or managing up (rules designed for mid-sized cases). IAALS supports the current proposals, and suggests that managing up—with good judicial involvement—is a much better solution for the majority of cases.

The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules has a full hearing schedule for the day, and comments continue to pour in, with 52 comments posted yesterday alone, per The comment period officially closes next week, on February 15.

IAALS has submitted a Joint Comment with the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice, which provides a summary of the pilot project and rules reform activity around the country, at both the state and federal level, as much of this activity parallels the current proposed amendments. In addition, several of the Proposed Principles in the IAALS and ACTL Task Force's Final Report are directly relevant to the proposed amendments, and it is with the perspective of these recommendations that we have jointly offered comment on the proposed rules.

In addition, IAALS has submitted a Report coming out of our Forum for Understanding and Comment on the Federal Rule Amendments, which was held on December 5, 2013. The Forum brought together a group of approximately forty lawyers, academics, and judges from around the country, with diverse practices and viewpoints, including both plaintiff and defense. Kourlis facilitated a discussion of each of the proposed amendments, as grouped by the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. The Report provides additional background and a summary of the discussion. It is our hope that it provides unique insight into the different points of view, as well as areas of consensus, regarding the proposed rules, and ultimately serves as a meaningful contribution to the ongoing conversation.

Click here to view our Comments to the Civil Rules Advisory Committee.

Click here to view our Report on the Forum.