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N.D. Ill.

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This report presents findings from surveys of attorneys participating in the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot (MIDP). The survey asks participating attorneys to evaluate the effects of the MIDP initial disclosures on pilot cases closed in the District of Arizona and the Northern District of Illinois through March 2019.

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Acevedo v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Elaine E. Bucklo, 1:18-cv-293) and Kowalski McDonald v. Cook County Officers’ Electoral Board (John J. Tharp., Jr., 1:18-cv-1277) (N.D. Ill.)
Two cases challenged the larger number of signatures required to get on a primary election ballot in Cook County than would be required to get on a primary election ballot for statewide office. Both district judges and the court of appeals ruled against the plaintiffs.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Beginning as early as May 1, 2017, some district courts are participating in a three-year pilot project known as the “Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project,” which is studying whether requiring parties in civil cases to respond to a series of standard discovery requests before undertaking other discovery reduces the cost and delay of civil litigation. In this pilot project, when making mandatory initial discovery responses parties 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 their cases.

Participating district courts have adopted a Standing Order explaining the parties’ obligations under the pilot project and setting forth the initial discovery requests to which the parties must respond. All civil cases, except those categories of cases exempted by the Standing Order, are included in the pilot program and subject to the Standing Order.

These are some of the key requirements under the Standing Order:

  • At the Rule 26(f) conference, parties must discuss the mandatory initial discovery listed in the Standing Order and describe their discussions (including limitations invoked and disputes) in their Rule 26(f) report.
  • Parties must provide the requested information as to facts that are relevant to the parties’ claims and defenses, whether favorable or unfavorable, and regardless of whether they intend to use the information in presenting their claims and defenses. 
  • Parties must file answers, counterclaims, cross-claims, and replies within the time set forth in Rule 12(a)(1)–(3), even if they have filed or intend to file a motion to dismiss or other preliminary motion. 
  • Parties must serve their initial discovery responses by the deadlines described in the Standing Order unless modified by the court.
  • Parties must address certain issues relating to electronically stored information (ESI) and produce ESI by the deadline set in the Standing Order.
  • Pilot judges should hold initial case-management conferences within the time set in Rule 16(b)(2) and discuss the parties’ compliance with the mandatory discovery obligations.

 
Currently there are two courts participating in this pilot project:

 
A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project.

Available Online Only

Beginning on June 1, 2017, the Northern District of Illinois is participating in a three-year pilot project known as the “Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project,” which is studying whether requiring parties in civil cases to respond to a series of standard discovery requests before undertaking other discovery reduces the cost and delay of civil litigation. In this pilot project, when making mandatory initial discovery responses parties 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 their cases.

General Order 17-0005 specifies that a Standing Order will be entered in all covered cases. The Standing Order, In re Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program in the Northern District of Illinois, explains the parties’ obligations under the pilot project and sets forth the initial discovery requests to which the parties must respond. All civil cases assigned to participating judges, except those categories of cases exempted by the Standing Order, are included in the pilot program and subject to the Standing Order.

A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project in the Northern District of Illinois.

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Zessar v. Helander (David H. Coar, N.D. Ill. 1:05-cv-1917)
A 2005 federal class action filed four days before a scheduled election charged that the state’s absentee voting system did not comply with due process requirements; an absentee vote cast in 2004 was not counted because of an erroneous conclusion that the ballot signature did not match the registration signature. The district judge initially heard a motion for emergency relief on election day, but set the matter for hearing two days later when defendants could participate after the plaintiff’s attorney acknowledged difficulties arising from his filing the case so close to an election. Because the plaintiff voted in person on election day, the district judge denied him immediate relief at the second hearing. After certifying both plaintiff and defendant classes, the district judge determined that state procedures violated due process.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; signature matching; laches; class action.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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A checklist itemizing the procedural requirements of the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project. The checklist is designed to be helpful to judges presiding over pilot cases and to attorneys participating in pilot cases as pilot requirements apply to the initial stages of discovery. The pilot project is scheduled to begin in participating courts as early as May 1, 2017.

Currently there are two courts participating in this pilot project:

 
A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project.

Available Online Only

A detailed description of the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project, which began in participating courts as early as May 1, 2017.

Currently there are two courts participating in this pilot project:

 
A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project.

Available Online Only

Summers v. Smart (John J. Tharp, Jr., and John Robert Blakey, N.D. Ill. 1:14-cv-5398) and Tripp v. Smart (Michael J. Reagan, S.D. Ill. 3:14-cv-890)
After failing to obtain enough signatures to appear on the 2014 general election ballot, a minor party filed a federal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois challenging ballot signature requirements for new parties. The district judge denied the party immediate relief, because the party had met the constitutionally suspect criteria. A district judge similarly denied immediate relief in a Southern District case. A new judge in the Northern District later dismissed the case there as precluded by an earlier result in state court. The federal court of appeals later concluded that the ballot access requirements were constitutional.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot; laches; recusal; case assignment; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

A detailed description of the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project, which begins for participating judges in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on June 1, 2017.

A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project in the Northern District of Illinois.

Available Online Only

A checklist itemizing the procedural requirements of the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project. The checklist is designed to be helpful to judges presiding over pilot cases and to attorneys participating in pilot cases as pilot requirements apply to the initial stages of discovery. The pilot project begins in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on June 1, 2017.

A Federal Judicial Center website displays additional information about the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project in the Northern District of Illinois.

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