JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES
August 15, 2000
To the Bench, Bar, and Public:
I. Proposed Style Amendments to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure has completed its style revision of the Criminal
Rules in accordance with uniform drafting guidelines. The restyling of the Criminal
Rules is the second in a series of comprehensive revisions to simplify, clarify,
and make more uniform all of the federal procedural rules. The proposed restyled
Criminal Rules are now circulated to the bench, bar, and public for comment.
They are posted on the Internet at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/.
The proposed changes are intended to be primarily stylistic
only. However, the Advisory Committee's extensive style review revealed ambiguities
and inconsistencies in the rules that required correction. The committee has
attempted to identify any revision that may cause a change in practice and explained
them in the Committee Notes.
II. Proposed Substantive Amendments to the Federal Rules of Criminal ProcedureIn addition to the style revisions, the Advisory Committee also has been considering one new rule and substantive amendments to ten existing rules. The eleven substantive proposed changes to the Criminal Rules are published in a separate pamphlet (along with other proposed substantive changes to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, and Civil Procedure). The eleven proposed substantive amendments are published separately from the proposed style amendments to highlight amendments that will significantly change current procedural practice.
III. Opportunity for Public CommentPlease provide any comments and suggestions on the proposed amendments (substantive or stylistic) whether favorable, adverse, or otherwise as soon as possible. The comment deadline is February 15, 2001. Please send all correspondence to: Secretary of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Washington, D.C. 20544. Comments may be sent electronically via the Internet to http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/.
January 24, 2001 New Orleans, Louisiana
January 29, 2001 San Francisco, California
February 12, 2001 Washington, D.C.
Anthony J. Scirica
Peter G. McCabe
Introduction to Proposed Style Revision
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure were enacted more than fifty years ago. Since then, the rules have been amended on twenty-seven occasions by committees and reporters who did not have drafting guidelines to assist them. Congress has also directly amended the criminal procedure rules. In some instances, the lack of drafting guidelines gave rise to inconsistent and ambiguous language.
In 1991, the Judicial Conference's Standing Committee
on Rules of Practice and Procedure, through its Subcommittee on Style, commenced
a restyling project to clarify, simplify, and make uniform the federal procedural
rules. The Rules of Criminal Procedure are the second set of procedural rules
to be restyled. Following uniform drafting guidelines developed by a noted legal
writing scholar, the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules prepared a comprehensive
stylistic revision of the criminal procedure rules. The restyled rules are now
published for public comment.
The proposed changes are intended to be primarily stylistic
only. However, during the course of its comprehensive review, the Advisory Committee
identified certain ambiguities and inconsistences in the rules that required
correction. The committee has attempted to identify any revision that may cause
a change in practice and explained them in the Committee Notes.
For easy comparison, the proposed restyled rules are set forth in side-by-side comparison with their present counterparts. The Advisory Committee believes this presentation will illustrate the clarity and consistency of the restyled rules, and will help you identify any unintended substantive changes.
The Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure are respected
for their clarity and simplicity. They are models for many state and local court
rules. Since their inception, some of the brightest legal minds have helped
draft and revise the procedural rules. Yet the rules suffer from a shortcoming.
Each set was drafted and modified by different committees, with different drafters
and stylistic preferences. As a result, the rules are sometimes inconsistent
To solve the problem, in 1991 the Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, under the leadership of its Chair, Judge Robert E. Keeton, established a Subcommittee on Style, tasking it to clarify, simplify, and eliminate inconsistencies in proposed rules amendments. That charge was later expanded to include a systematic review of the appellate, bankruptcy, civil, and criminal rules. The first chair of that Subcommittee, Professor Charles Alan Wright, enlisted the aid of a leading legal writing scholar, who prepared uniform drafting guidelines on which the style subcommittee based its work.
The rules committees recognize that a comprehensive change of established and well-known rules may cause initial transitional difficulty. They believe that the following side-by-side comparison will show that the restyled rules are a tremendous improvement that will benefit all.
Professor Charles Alan Wright, chair (1991-- 1993);
Judge George C. Pratt, member (1991-- 1993), chair (1993 -- 1995);
Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler, member (1991 -- 1993);
Joseph F. Spaniol, Jr., consultant (1991 -- present);
Bryan A. Garner, consultant (1991 -- present);
Judge Robert E. Keeton, ex officio (1991 -- 1993);
Judge James A. Parker, member (1993 -- 1995),
chair (1995 -- 1999);
Professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr., member (1993 -- present);
Judge William R. Wilson, Jr., member (1995 -- 1999)
R. Joseph Kimble, consultant (2000 -- present);
Judge J. Garvan Murtha, chair (2000 -- present); and
Judge Anthony J. Scirica, ex officio (1998 -- present).