Federal Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure opens “Duke Rules Package” for comment

Aug 22, 2013Latest News

A package of proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which could profoundly affect litigation practice originated during a 2010 conference at Duke Law School.

The “Duke Rules Package” was released by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States earlier this month; the proposals are now open to public comment for a six-month period that will end on Feb. 15, 2014.   These amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, proposed by the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, will take effect on Dec. 1, 2015, subject to Supreme Court approval and inaction by Congress.

The Duke Rules Package has its inception at a Civil Rules Committee blue-ribbon conference held at Duke Law in May 2010, which focused on the high costs of civil litigation, particularly discovery, and examined ways to improve the system.  Attended by almost 100 lawyers, judges, and academics, the conference was intended to facilitate changes that would further the goals of the Civil Rules:  “to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.”

The Duke Rules Package focuses specifically on changes to discovery rules, said John Rabiej, director of the Duke Center for Judicial Studies, who facilitated the conference during his 20-year tenure as head of the office supporting the Judicial Conference Rules Committee.  Key proposals redefine the scope of discovery, limit the allowable number of depositions and interrogatories, and significantly restrict sanctions for discovery spoliation for negligent failure to preserve evidence, particularly electronically stored information said Rabiej, an expert on electronic discovery.

Comments on the proposed rule amendments can be submitted here.  The Civil Rules Committee, said Rabiej, will give serious consideration to every comment.

“At Duke Law School we have a tradition of being involved with the Rules Committee and with law reform,” said Dean David F. Levi, who is a member and former chair of the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, and a former chair of the Civil Rules Advisory Committee.  “This package of rules proposals will now go through a lengthy public comment period.  Often rule proposals do not survive the scrutiny invited by the public comment.  Indeed, at the Duke Conference, esteemed commenters, including former rules reporters Paul Carrington and Arthur Miller spoke against some of the proposals.  The process is a good one and is designed for careful and deliberative action.”