Litigators and legal professionals who participate in the discovery process will benefit from reading the recently published Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34 Primer* from The Sedona Conference Working Group 1 (WG1).
The 2015 changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure addressed systemic problems in the handling of discovery requests and responses in the justice system. In particular, Rule 34 was revised to reduce the “… costs and delay in the disposition of civil actions by advancing cooperation among the parties, proportionality in the use of discovery procedural tools, and early and active judicial case management.”
The changes to discovery rules were meant to eliminate certain obstacles that tended to jump in front of efficiently moving through actions and proceedings. These obstacles typically included:
- Overly and unnecessarily broad, non-particularized discovery requests
- Overuse of boilerplate objections that provided insufficient information
- Responses to requests that failed to clarify whether responsive documents were being withheld on the basis of objections
- Responses stating that requested documents would be produced without specifying when
The Sedona Conference WG1 prepared the Rule 34(b)(2) Primer to provide practice pointers on how to comply with the amended rules. For example, the document provides guidance on how to draft Rule 34 requests to successfully combat objections. Also useful are tips and recent case law that apply the amended rule’s language disfavoring boilerplate objections and requiring responding parties to disclose whether they are withholding documents on the basis of their objections. These and other useful points make the primer the perfect go-to for anyone who is part of the discovery process.
The Sedona Conference is a nonprofit research and educational institute dedicated to the advanced study of law and policy, particularly in the areas of antitrust law, complex litigation, and intellectual property rights. The organization drives reasoned, practical, and just advancements of law and policy by stimulating dialogue among leaders of the bench and bar.
Congratulations to Annika Martin of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and Women En Mass, who is on the WG1 Steering Committee and was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the primer. This document is a valuable resource for lawyers and other professionals in the field as they apply the 2015 amendments to the discovery rules to their practice.
*19 Sedona Conf. J. 447 (forthcoming 2018)
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).