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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy Restyling Day

Today is December 1 and, since Congress did nothing, the Restyled Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now are in effect. The project has rewritten all 80+ rules, modernizing language (good-bye "averments," hello "allegations;" good-bye "shall," hello "must") and structuring the rules into parts, sections, and sub-sections, away from longer sentence/paragraph form. But the changes (supposedly) have no effect on the meaning or proper interpretation of any of the rules.

The rewritten rules take effect despite a flurry of last-minute scholarly work urging Congress to reject the restyled rules or at least delay the effective date for further study. The excellent Civil Procedure Prof Blog collects and links to much of the criticism, and holds discussions with some of the critics, including Seton Hall's Edward Hartnett and George Mason's Jeff Parker, here, here, here, and here. Blog editors Rory Ryan and Jeremy Counseller put the critiques all together in this essay for Washington University Law Review Slip Opinions.

That the new language did take effect at least vindicates my decision to teach almost exclusively from the restyled rules this past semester, only looking to the current rules periodically to show potentially meaningful language changes. And the section/sub-section division was, in fact, easier to walk through in class discussions, compared with the old sentence/paragraph format. In the end, I think I fall into the camp of people who think the changes were not worth the candle, but the results will not be particularly tragic.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 1, 2007 at 02:18 PM | Permalink


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