Supreme Court proposes revisions to Federal Rules of Civil ProcedureApril 30, 2007

In can what only be described as a busy day at the Supreme Court, the Court, in addition to rendering opinions in five cases (including two patent cases, see here and here), also proposed revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil, Criminal, Bankruptcy, and Appellate Procedure.

While the Rules of Appellate Procedure only have a single change (adding Rule 25(a)(5) relating to privacy protection), the Civil Rules have edits in (apparently) every rule. Most appear to be cosmetic, predominantly changing "legalese" into more easily readable text. For example, here is the current version of Rule 56(a), regarding Summary Judgment:

Rule 56. Summary Judgment

(a) FOR CLAIMANT. A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, at any time after the expiration of 20 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party’s favor upon all or any part thereof.

Here is the proposed revised version:

Rule 56. Summary Judgment

(a) By a Claiming Party. A party claiming relief may move, with or without supporting affidavits, for summary judgment on all or part of the claim. The motion may be filed at any time after: (1) 20 days have passed from commencement of the action; or (2) the opposing party serves a motion for summary judgment.

The substance of the Rule appears to be the same, only the phrasing appears to differ. The bulk of the changes appear to be of this nature, but hopefully the Court or Congress will post a version with changes highlighted for a more thorough analysis. The one apparent addition is Rule 5.2, which, like the new Appellate Rule, deals with privacy protection for documents filed with courts.

The revisions now go to Congress for its review. If Congress makes no changes, the updated rules will become effective December 1, 2007.

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