Last summer, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States published numerous draft amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for public comment. During the six-month comment period, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules received more than 2,000 written comments, and heard from more than 120 witnesses at three public hearings. Attorneys at CCL attended each of public hearings and reviewed all of the written comments, and prepared a preliminary report summarizing the public commentary on the proposals, which was released today. The report estimates the number of comments on specific proposals, as well as comments on the package of proposals generally, and examines the types of commenters on the proposed amendments.

The preliminary report demonstrates that the response to the proposed amendments was overwhelmingly negative on most of the proposals. The negative response came from a wide array of commenters including members of the plaintiffs’ bar, as well as attorneys and non-profit organizations that represent individuals and small businesses against larger entities like corporations and governments in a variety of civil litigation, including civil rights, employment, consumer rights and environmental justice cases. A large number of law professors, more than two dozen members of Congress, and several current and former federal judges also opposed many of the proposals, including the proposal to incorporate “proportionality” into the definition of the scope of discovery. More than two-thirds of the comments on the proposed addition of “proportionality” into the scope of discovery opposed the amendment.

Despite the strong opposition articulated to many of the proposals, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules unanimously recommended the adoption of several draft amendments, including the change to Rule 26(b)(1) that would add “proportionality” to the scope of discovery, with some revisions to the published version of the text and Committee Note. The Standing Committee will consider this recommendation at its next meeting on April 29th and 30th in Washington, DC.

CCL’s supplemental comments on the proposed amendments are available here.

Questions about CCL’s Preliminary Report should be directed to Valerie M. Nannery, Senior Litigation Counsel.