Monday, February 4, 2008
Public Comments on Federal Rules, and Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure
Many legal research and writing professors may have missed an interesting development in federal rulemaking: Public comments on proposed rules are now easily accessible on the internet.
For example, take the Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure. You can find each of those proposed rules at this website. If you scroll down to the end of that page, you can see another link to comments submitted on those proposed federal rules. There you can view comments already submitted (and get information on how to submit your own comments).
What does this mean?
First, I think it is an interesting future research source for our students. If they are affected by a change in a federal rule, they can more easily research the public comments that went into making the rule. Sure, this information was available earlier if you had the time to go visit the agency headquarters, but these public comments are now easily available just with a few clicks. Will such research be persuasive to a court? That question remains to be decided, but at a minimum knowing who said what to the agency will be helpful information to many readers.
Second, I think that it will encourage the submission of more comments. Perhaps this is a good thing, perhaps not -- that would depend on the quality of the comments submitted.
Third, drafting comments on proposed federal rules might become a useful class exercise for legal writing. Students could analyze proposed rule changes, research existing law, and draft comments that they could then submit (or not) to the agency.
The public comment procedure is available for federal government agencies and for proposed changes to the court rules. Comments are due on those proposed rule changes by February 15, 2008. Have a look at the website links above -- maybe you (or your students) will have some comments of your own to submit.
Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School-Chicago