OU Law Professor Steve Gensler Teaches Federal Judges About New Rules

April 30, 2015 | By Casey T. Delaney

The Federal Judicial Center invited Welcome D. & W. DeVier Pierson Professor Steven Gensler to present at the 2015 National Workshops for U.S. Magistrate Judges.  Along with Judge Lee H. Rosenthal (S.D. Tex.), Professor Gensler led a discussion of the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that are scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2015.  The 2015 amendments focus on reducing expense and delay in the civil pretrial process by promoting active judicial case management and by limiting discovery to what is proportional to the needs of the case.

“While discovery proceeds quickly and sensibly in many cases, there are still too many cases where discovery is wholly out of proportion to what is reasonably needed for the parties to develop and prepare the case,” said Professor Gensler.  According to Professor Gensler, the advent of electronic discovery has made proportionality an essential concept. “The idea of using discovery to get all relevant information might have made sense in 1938, but that’s not realistic in today’s world of computers, mobile phones, and social media.  What we need is balance.  Lawyers have to change the way they think about discovery.  And so do judges.”

The first Workshop was held in Seattle in April.  A second Workshop is scheduled to take place in Boston in July.  “This is a key audience for us,” said Professor Gensler. “Magistrate Judges are often on the front lines of controlling the civil pretrial process. They understand as well as anyone how important it is for the judge to set the right tone early in the case and prevent the senseless fighting that too often occurs when the parties think nobody is watching.”

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