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Judicial Conference Receives Budget Update, Forwards Rules Package to Supreme Court

"The final enacted FY 2014 funding level that Congress provided the Judiciary gave us much needed relief and helped put the judiciary in a position to recover from the harsh impacts of sequestration, and prior to that, a flat budget from Congress,” Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Budget Committee, reported today to the Judicial Conference.

In the last six months, courts have begun to backfill some of the 3,400 staff lost between July 2011 and March 2014, and also restore funding for critical public safety programs, such as probation and pretrial services.  During the last six months, Federal defender offices have backfilled about a quarter of the 400 staff lost in those offices between October 2012 and March 2014. The Judiciary has fared relatively well in terms of the proposed funding marks it has received from Congress for FY 2015. However, the Judiciary, like the rest of the federal government, may be operating under a continuing resolution for some portion of the upcoming fiscal year.

“While we believe Congress views the Judiciary as a funding priority, we must remain diligent in our combined outreach and cost containment efforts going forward,” Judge Gibbons said.

In other action, the Conference approved and forwarded to the Supreme Court for its consideration a significant package of changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure designed to promote the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of civil suits. The proposed changes seek to reduce litigation costs and delays by encouraging early case management by judges, increased cooperation among the parties, and the proportional use of discovery based on the needs of the case.  Another amendment clarifies the remedies available for the loss of electronically stored information.

These amendments were developed over the course of four years by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Committee hosted conferences, evaluated empirical research, reviewed surveys of lawyers and judges, received more than 2,300 written comments, and held public hearings in Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Phoenix.

The proposed amendments will be transmitted to the Supreme Court with a recommendation that they be adopted. If the Supreme Court concurs, the revised rules will take effect on December 1, 2015, unless Congress enacts legislation to reject, modify, or defer the proposed amendments.

The proposed amendments and the Committee's report are available on the Pending Rules Amendment page under the section titled Amendments Approved by the Judicial Conference – Effective December 1, 2014.

Read a memo describing the Proposed Amendments (pdf) to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. The Chief Justice serves as its presiding officer. Its members are the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.

Related Topics: Funding, Judicial Conference of the United States, Legislation