In early March, the American College of Trial Lawyers released a court study which called for the rewriting of the discovery rules. Discovery is the internal exchange of information in each case. The depositions, interrogatories, inspections, and examinations by experts that eat up time and cost a lot of money. The 30-page report contains more than two dozen proposals and general principles for overhauling the discovery rules used in both federal and state courts. It was an 18-month joint project of the ACTL and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver.
Discovery disputes take up a lot of the court’s time. With the judicial economic issues out there anything that would free up time and reduce the need for hearing, will be looked at in a positive light. The concern will be if it will lead to more hiding of the ball or important evidence. Also with defense firm billing by the hour, it’s expected that less hearings and fewer discovery depositions won’t be seen as a benefit.
The list of reconditions included:
The task force did not define when discovery should be cut off, but outlined nine areas of possible limitation:
— Redefine "relevance", the threshold for discovery.
— Limit who may be subject to discovery requests.
— Limit types of discovery.
— Impose numerical limits, such as 50 hours of deposition time.
— Eliminate deposition of experts.
— Limit time for discovery.
— Shift costs, or co-pay rules.
— Impose financial limits.
— Set client-approved discovery budgets.
I’ve been told of the days when trying the case usually involved a file about an inch or two think. In this day an age where the smallest case usually involves at least one box, these changes would be welcomed just in the savings in trees alone. These changes may also help put the plaintiff on better financial footing to maintain a case. The savings in time will also help keep moving cases along.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.