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Rules of Practice and Procedure: Overview

Rules of Practice and Procedure

The Federal Judicial Center offers many educational resources on the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure: Appellate Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence. It also posts selected information on Amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure. In addition, the Center’s Research Division has long provided the Judicial Conference’s rules committees with empirical and analytical research reports that inform the committees’ policy considerations.
     Among the references for rules text are the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s “Congressional Committee Prints.”
     Additional information on rules and the rulemaking process is presented by the Administrative Office on the Internet: www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies.

Recent Resources

Introduction to the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot
Paul W. Grimm
April 6, 2017 (Video)
The Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project requires exchanges of discovery in participating courts before the commencement of discovery requests. Parties in covered civil cases are required to disclose both favorable and unfavorable information that is relevant to their claims or defenses, regardless of whether they intend to use the information in the case. The goal of the pilot project is to promote the goals of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1: “the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.”

Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot: A Discussion of Practice and Effects
Dawn Bergin, Mark Brain, John Rea, David G. Campbell, David B. Rosenbaum, and Patrick J. McGroder
April 6, 2017 (Video)
Judge David Campbell (D. Ariz.) chairs a panel discussion that includes three Arizona state judges and two attorneys practicing in Arizona state courts. The experts in Arizona state court civil litigation discuss the effect of discovery rules like the pilot project rules in Arizona state court litigation. Panelists observe that the idea is to get both good and bad facts on the table early in the case so that lawyers can promptly litigate the case.

Survey of Harm to Cooperators: Final Report
Margaret S. Williams, Donna Stienstra, and Marvin Astrada
2016, 148 pages (In Print: Available for Distribution)
At the request of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee, the Criminal Law Committee, and the Committee on Defender Service, the FJC surveyed federal district judges, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, federal defenders, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) district panel representative’s offices, and chief probation and pretrial services offices about harm or threat of harm to government cooperators. Respondents reported a minimum of 571 instances of harm to defendants/offenders and witnesses in the past three years. Cases often involved harm to both defendants/offenders and witnesses. Respondents most often reported threats of physical harm to defendants/offenders or witnesses and to friends or family of defendants/offenders or witnesses. Defendants were most likely to be harmed or threatened when in some type of custody, while witnesses were either in pretrial detention or not in custody at the time of harm or threat. Respondents frequently reported court documents or court proceedings as the source for identifying cooperators. Concerns about harm or threat affected the willingness of both defendants/offenders and witnesses to cooperate with the government in the past three years. Overall, respondents generally agreed that harm to cooperators was a significant problem and that more needed to be done to protect cooperators from harm.

Amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure: Civil Rules 2015
David Campbell, Gene Pratter, John Koeltl, and Paul Grimm
(Videos)
In five short videos, federal district judges describe the December 1, 2015, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, amendments intended to make civil discovery more efficient without depriving parties of proof or defense: “Overview,” “Cooperation,” “Proportional Discovery,” “Early and Active Case Management,” and “Failure to Preserve Electronically Stored Information.”