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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.
     Additional information on rules and the rulemaking process is presented by the Administrative Office on the Internet: www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies.

Recent Resources

Amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure: Evidence 2019—The Residual Hearsay Exception
January 7, 2020 (Video)
In 2019, the residual hearsay exception, Federal Rules of Evidence 807, was amended to fix a number of problems that courts had encountered applying the rule. Hearsay is generally not admissible evidence because the speaker is not subject to examination or cross-examination to determine accuracy or truthfulness. But there are several enumerated exceptions to the general rule, as well as a residual exception for hearsay that does not satisfy an enumerated exception, but that has "sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness." Amendments include a required consideration of corroboration and changes to the notice requirements.

Amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure: Evidence 2017—Self-Authenticating Electronic Evidence
December 1, 2017 (Video)
Federal Rules of Evidence 902(13) and 902(14), which became effective on December 1, 2017, provide for the self-authentication of electronic evidence. Under these rules, electronic evidence can be authenticated by certification instead of by testimony. Rule 902(13) applies to electronic evidence such as computer files, social media posts, and smart device data. Rule 902(14) applies to electronic copies.

Managing Discovery of Electronic Information: A Pocket Guide for Judges, Third Edition
Ronald J. Hedges, Barbara J. Rothstein, and Elizabeth C. Wiggins
2017, 55 pages (In Print: Available for Distribution)
This third edition of the pocket guide on managing the discovery of electronically stored information (ESI) covers the December 1, 2015, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and reflects the rise of new sources of ESI, particularly social media, and updates judges on how ESI may be searched. It also suggests case-management techniques that judges might use in smaller civil actions in which the costs of ESI discovery could hamper resolution on the merits.

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.”