May 2, 2007
Restyled Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Today the Supreme Court sent the package of "restyled" Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to Congress, which means that the new rules will go into effect December 1, 2007 unless Congress affirmatively acts to reject them. Here's the link to the notice on the federal courts rulemaking page. The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules worked on the restyling project for several years, with the goal of making the rules clearer and more readable without changing their substantive meaning. That last point has been a subject of controversy, with some civil procedure scholars arguing that changing the language of the rules inevitably will change how those rules are interpreted and used. In any event, it appears likely that come Dec. 1, we'll be using the new improved FRCPs.
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The new rules include many principles of plain language; Joe Kimble, the plain language guru of the Michigan bar and author of "Lifting the Fog of Legalese" was a consultant on the project. He reports that he met resistance over some points, especially when it came to trying to replace statutory language with plainer alternatives. Even when the rules are not required to regurgitate the statute verbatim, rulemakers tend to find safety in the comfort of statutory language. Thus, the committee didn't want to use the phrase "a government attorney" because the statute always uses the phrase "An attorney for the government"!
Posted by: Adam Freedman | Jun 9, 2007 4:17:11 AM