Two new resources to assist U.S. courts and lawyers in implementing civil justice reform have been issued by the Joint Project of The American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice and The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver (IAALS):
- 21st Century Civil Justice System: A Roadmap for Reform: Pilot Project Rules (2009). Here is a summary:
- “In March 2009, we published a joint Final Report that contains 29 Principles. Those Principles suggest changes to the civil justice system that would address costs by simplifying and expediting the system. The Final Report can be found on both of our websites at www.actl.com and www.du.edu/legalinstitute. The Principles represent the best thinking of the individuals involved in our project, in collaboration with the broader membership of the ACTL and with experts across the nation. Nonetheless, we understand how important it is to test our proposed solutions before suggesting that they be widely implemented. Accordingly, it is our intention that the Principles be tested in pilot projects in courts around the country, with the projects monitored and measured to determine what works and what does not. In order to be able to apply the Principles in those pilot projects, we have undertaken the task of reducing them to operational Rules. We urge jurisdictions to use these Rules as a roadmap for consideration in creating and implementing a pilot project. IAALS has dedicated a portion of its website to these pilot projects (www.du.edu/legalinstitute/tcri2.html), and will be collecting information as we move forward. IAALS will also be developing metrics to gauge the impact of the pilot projects.”
- 21st Century Civil Justice System: A Roadmap for Reform: Civil Caseflow Management Guidelines (2009). Here is a summary:
- “Excessive litigation costs and delay (separate but closely interrelated concerns) are two of the most serious problems in the civil justice system. These problems not only plague litigants whose cases do get into court, but also negatively affect access to justice, not just for the indigent, but perhaps even for the middle class. These concerns can be addressed meaningfully through caseflow management practices. Effective caseflow management involves much more than reducing time to disposition; it involves timeliness throughout the life of the case. … Another goal of caseflow management is to ensure that each event is meaningful, in that ‘the activity and preparation required for the event to take place on the scheduled date is completed before that date by all involved stakeholders.’ A corollary goal is to assure that effort is not duplicated. When the parties, counsel and the court prepare for an event, that event should occur. Otherwise, the preparation will have to be repeated. Additionally, the event itself should advance the resolution of the case in some way. The Guidelines that follow were drawn from a number of sources, including the Interim and Final Reports of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), and a recent and extensive IAALS civil case processing study [i.e., Civil Case Processing in the Federal District Courts: A 21st Century Analysis (2009)]. These Guidelines and the discussion of specific suggestions for applying the Guidelines are designed to assist judges in effectively managing the flow of civil cases to ensure that all events in the life of a case are timely and meaningful. … The Operational Protocols accompanying the Guidelines are intended to breathe life into the Guidelines. The Protocols are recommended practices and procedures that will assist judges in implementing the Guidelines. As is true with the Guidelines, not all of the Operational Protocols will be applicable to every case and judges exercising active caseflow management will be best positioned to determine which Protocols should be adopted in each case.” (footnotes omitted)
Both the Rules and the Guidelines include provisions for limiting pretrial discovery.
For more information on the joint project, please see the IAALS Website.
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