January 25, 2008
The New FRCP and Statutory Construction
I teach civil procedure, and other classes, and you may not know it but a special committee (headed by Hon. Lee Rosenthal, a Houston judge and one of the warmest and sharpest people I know) recently re-wrote the rules in "plain English." A page with links to the rules and various other material is here.
The goal and expressed intent was to not change the meaning of any rules. In looking them over, I think -- think -- they largely succeeded in that effort. I did note, in completing a book about civil procedure, a few potential issues. One relates to ejusdem generis/noscitur, the issue in Ali. Rule 8(c) used to list a bunch of specific "affirmative defenses" and ended with a broader catchall; it no longer does. It now starts with a broad introduction and then lists the specific items. I can see someone, someday, making a run at that as having a different meaning. Other than that, I didn't notice any substantive changes, or at least obvious ones.
If you haven't read them, you really should. I felt like as a teacher of civ pro, I spent about half my time converting the passive and wordy old rules into plain English, and I think Judge Rosenthal's committee has done a fantastic job of doing that.
They're not your father's Federal Rules...
Have a good weekend! I'm in Peoria, Illinois, of all places, where it is somewhere below zero.
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