On March 11, 2009, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver and the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) Task Force on Discovery released proposed Principles designed to streamline a U.S. civil justice system that has become mired in cost and delay.
The 29 Principles addressed many of the system’s problem areas with recommendations that included: emphasis on proportional discovery, replacement of notice pleading with fact pleading, significant reduction in expert witnesses and limits on depositions, as well as a call for case management by a single judicial officer rather than rotation by multiple judges.
The Principles contained in the Final Report on the Joint Project of the ACTL Task Force on Discovery and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System were developed in the wake of key findings distributed last fall, which underscored mounting concern about the functionality of our civil justice system. In a national survey of Fellows of the ACTL, respondents overwhelmingly concluded that the cost of litigation was impeding the fair resolution of cases and deserving cases were not being brought because they failed a rational cost-benefit test.
These Principles are the culmination of an 18-month process that included comprehensive analysis of previous reform efforts in the U.S. and abroad, existing scholarship, and the extensive experience of civil justice system experts and practitioners associated with the project.
What’s next? In the coming months, the two organizations will work together to support implementation of these Principles through pilot projects. And, it is expected that the release of these recommendations will provide the platform for debate and constructive action that could lead to the transformation of civil procedure in federal and state systems throughout the United States.
The Final Report is available in its entirety on the websites of both organizations at:
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System:
American College of Trial Lawyers: