Sunday, December 2, 2007
Yesterday, the restyled federal rules of civil procedure took effect. After a long drafting process by the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules with plenty of opportunity for public comment, the Supreme Court approved the rules in April 2007. With Congress's tacit approval by inaction, the amendments became effective on December 1. I think it's a change for the better, but I may be the only proceduralist who thinks so. At the Civil Procedure Prof Blog (which earlier linked to some commentaries on the restyled rules), Rory Ryan gives it a seasonal "bah, humbug." At PrawfsBlawg, Howard Wasserman wishes everyone a Happy Restyling Day, but the best he can muster is that he thinks "the changes were not worth the candle, but the results will not be particularly tragic." What a lot of fuss there's been in the past year, with academics trying to gather signatures to petition Congress to step in because, horror of horrors, the new language may not leave meanings completely unchanged in the long run. Where were all these critics for the past few years when the restyling project was underway? To be fair, a number of academics -- notably a group assembled by Steve Burbank and Greg Joseph to examine the rules for unintended substantive impact, and Ed Hartnett in his article Against (Mere) Restyling -- offered serious and timely comments. In any event, the new rules have arrived, with their modernized language and more clearly organized subparts, and I think that lawyers will learn to appreciate them.