Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Approved Federal Court Rules Changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States approved court rules changes recommended by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure at its Sept. 15th meeting. Amendments include:
  • Appellate Rules 1, 4, and 29 and Form 4
  • Civil Rules 8, 26, and 56 and Illustrative Form 52
  • Criminal Rules 12.3, 15, 21, and 32.1
  • Evidence Rule 804

Several Bankruptcy Rules will also be revised.

One of the most interesting changes is to Appellate Rule 29(c), which requires

an amicus curiae to disclose whether counsel for a party authored the brief in whole or in part and whether a party or a party’s counsel contributed money with the intention of funding the preparation or submission of the brief, and to identify every person (other than the amicus, its members, and its counsel) who contributed money that was intended to fund the brief’s preparation or submission. The disclosure requirement, which is modeled on Supreme Court Rule 37.6, serves to deter counsel from using an amicus brief to circumvent page limits on the parties’ brief. It also is intended to help judges assess whether the amicus itself considers the issue sufficiently important to justify the cost and effort of filing an amicus brief.

The changes to Civil Rule 26 address practical problems with discovery of all communications between counsel and expert witnesses and all draft reports from experts. Rule 56 amendments deal with improved "procedures for presenting and deciding summary-judgment motions."

The Committee's 178-page report--complete with markup versions of the affected rules--is available online.

Following the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. secs. 2071-2077, the changes will be transmitted to the Supreme Court and Congress.

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