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Washington Letter December 2015


Featured Articles

Civil Practice & Procedure

Significant changes made to federal civil procedure rules

The 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect Dec. 1, making the most significant changes to discovery and case management in more than a decade. The amendments − designed to promote the just, speedy and inexpensive resolution of civil suits − were drafted by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and approved by the Judicial Conference and the Supreme Court. They were then cleared when Congress took no action to reject, modify or defer implementation

Legislation & Lobbying

Senate passes justice and mental health bill

The Senate passed a bill Dec. 10 that would improve access to mental health services for those in the criminal justice system who need treatment. S. 993, sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and a bipartisan group of more that 30 cosponsors, would authorize $18 million each year for four years to support efforts to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, veterans treatment services, mental health treatment, and substance abuse systems.

Tribal Law & Courts

Senate bill would provide aid to victims of crime on tribal lands

A bipartisan bill ready for a vote by the full Senate would create a direct funding stream from the federal Crime Victims Fund (CVF) to help victims of crime on tribal lands. S. 1704, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment Act (SURVIVE Act), cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in July and was reported to the full Senate this month. Under the bill’s provisions, the Department of Interior would administer a competitive tribal grant program for crime victim services and assistance.

Courts & Judiciary

Senate confirms 11 judicial nominees during First Session

When the Senate adjourned Dec. 18 at the end of the First Session of the 114th Congress, senators had confirmed 11 judicial nominees, leaving 31 pending nominations and the federal judiciary with more than 60 vacancies. ABA President Paulette Brown urged Senate leaders earlier this month to schedule confirmation votes before year’s end on the 15 judicial nominees who had been waiting for action by the full Senate following unanimous voice vote approval by the committee.

Federal Government

President signs education reform bill that includes attention to homeless and foster children

Legislation signed Dec. 10 by President Obama replaces the 2007 No Child Left Behind Act and includes provisions supported by the ABA to address the special needs of homeless and foster children in the education system. P.L. 114-95 (S. 1177) helps promote school stability and success for students in foster care by including provisions supported by the ABA that were in the Senate version of the legislation.