Civil discovery rule changes described by @swlaw attorney

“No (More) Fishing” may be one way to describe changes to federal discovery rules.

­­As you likely know, important changes were recently made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including changes in the discovery realm, captured in Rule 26.

In late January, Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein wrote about the amendments, particularly in regard to environmental and natural resource litigation.

He is some of what he said in his well-written blog post:

“Previously, parties were entitled to conduct discovery regarding anything that might be ‘reasonably calculated’ to lead to relevant and admissible evidence. In practice, this led to some parties deposing witnesses and subpoenaing documents with only a tenuous relationship to the real issues of the case. This kind of behavior caused significant costs and delays in litigation.”

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

“In environmental and national resource litigation, abusive discovery conduct typically results from parties without any real evidence looking for some (fishing expeditions), deep-pocketed parties trying to overwhelm their adversaries under a pile of documents and/or multiple and lengthy depositions, or parties who have no real idea what they were doing and are trying to figure it out along the way.”

“The new rule now requires an analysis of ‘proportionality.’ Rather than seeking everything but the kitchen sink, a party conducting discovery has an obligation to show why the discovery is reasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case.”

You should read the whole thing here.

Of course, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s more than one way to look at rule changes. And when I see phrases like “abusive discovery,” “fishing expeditions,” and “everything but the kitchen sink,” I would guess at least a few lawyers would want to characterize things differently.

So today I wonder:

  1. Should we cover this topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine? and
  2. How would you describe the discovery rule changes? As Mitch did, or otherwise?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Pile of documents stack up high waiting to be managed

Needles and haystacks are often a metaphor for civil discovery.

Legal scholar Arthur Miller will deliver the ASU Pedrick Lecture on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Legal scholar Arthur Miller will deliver the ASU Pedrick Lecture on Friday, March 28, 2014.

I can already see all of you non-civil litigators smirking. Well, banish the smirk, because the 75-year anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is a big deal.

Fortunately, the ASU Law School is prepared to honor it in style.

The school reports that scholar Arthur Miller will delivered the annual Pedrick Lecture, which is titled “Revisiting the Rules: Celebrating 75 years of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

The event will be on Friday, March 28, at 10 a.m. It will be followed by a panel discussion comprised of a great group of judges and attorneys.

More detail, including the complete list of speakers, is here.

The event is free but registration is requested. You can do that here.

It appears that I will be racing between three noteworthy events that day. So if you are attending some or all of the FRCP festivities at the law school and would like to write a guest blog post, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. Special consideration will be given to authors who salt their post with Rule-based references.