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November 2010

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Report to Chief Justice on Civil Litigation: Education and Training Are Key

As the federal Judiciary continues to work toward cutting costs and delays in federal civil litigation, a report to the Chief Justice says educating lawyers, clients, and judges should be part of that effort.

The report, which grew out of a gathering of judges, lawyers, and academics last May at the Duke University School of Law, was submitted to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. recently by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.

“The many possibilities for improving the administration of the present rules can be summarized in shorthand terms: cooperation; proportionality; and sustained, active, hands-on judicial case management,” the Report to the Chief Justice of the United States on the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation said.

“Many of the strategies for pursuing these possibilities lie outside the rule-making process,” it added. “The Rules Committees do not train judges or lawyers, write manuals, draft practice pointers, or develop ‘best practices’ guides. But the Rules Committees are eager to work with those responsible for such efforts and to ensure that the rules, the training, and the supporting materials all reinforce each other.”

More than 200 persons attended the two-day conference in May. Many aspects of the federal civil justice system were covered, including pleadings, discovery, trials, case management, and settlements. Participants presented and discussed empirical information, analytical papers, pilot projects, and various approaches used by both federal and state justice systems. (See May issue of The Third Branch, www.uscourts.gov/News/TheThirdBranch/10-07-01/Examining_the_State_of_Civil_Litigation.aspx.)

“The result is a large amount of empirical information and a rich array of possible approaches to improving how the federal courts serve civil litigants,” the report said.

It said there was a consensus “that making changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is not sufficient to make meaningful improvements…. Rule changes will be ineffective if they are not accompanied by judicial education, legal education, and support provided by the development of materials to facilitate implementing more efficient and effective procedures.”

The 12-page report is available online at www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/2010%20report.pdf.