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Rule 1 Task Force Update

Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Since March 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas has been involved in an intense effort to find ways to ensure that civil litigation actually is handled in the “just, speedy, and inexpensive” manner contemplated by Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  This Rule 1 project has been spearheaded by the court’s Bench-Bar Committee, which worked in close consultation with two nationally recognized experts on the federal rules and a diverse assemblage of experienced and respected trial lawyers from throughout Kansas.  Smaller groups of lawyers and judges working together were formed to focus on and then make specific recommendations concerning: (1) overall civil case management; (2) discovery involving electronically stored information (ESI); (3) traditional non-ESI discovery; (4) dispositive-motion practice; (5) trial scheduling and procedures; and (6) professionalism and sanctions.  Nearly all of the recommendations of these six working groups were recently approved by the Bench-Bar Committee and in turn by the court.

The Rule 1 task force’s recommendations, highly summarized, strive to preserve and improve on those things the court has done well in the past.  And just as importantly, we’ve tried to eliminate procedures whose value is outweighed by burden and expense.  Both lawyers and judges now will be expected to be much more creative and practical in structuring discovery and motion practice in ways that are proportionate to what’s involved in each individual case.  To implement the Rule 1 task force’s recommendations, the court’s four principal civil-case-management forms have been completely revised.  These include: (1) the initial order regarding planning and scheduling; (2) the  Rule 26(f)-planning report; (3) the scheduling order; and (4) the pretrial order.  The court has substantially revised its ESI guidelines to address that particularly critical and rapidly evolving subject.  The court has updated its guidelines concerning protective orders, and approved a standardized form order for easy use (or adaptation) by litigants.  New summary-judgment guidelines have been developed.  Implementing the task force’s recommendations will involve some relatively minor revisions to the court’s local rules.  Copies of the various documents mentioned above, along with the proposed rules revisions, are included in the PDF document that’s attached to this notice.

Before fully implementing the task-force recommendations, the court invites comments by the practicing  bar.  Comments may be e-mailed to Mr. Timothy M. O’Brien, Clerk of Court, at Tim_OBrien@ksd.uscourts.gov, by September 10, 2013.

Rule 1 Task Force Documents (PDF)