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Washington Letter March 2015


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Legislation & Lobbying

House panel revives debate on Rule 11 sanctions

Witnesses appearing March 17 before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice offered opposing views on H.R. 758, a bill that would amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require, rather than permit, the imposition of monetary sanctions against lawyers for filing non-meritorious claims. In a March 23 letter submitted for the hearing record, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote that the ABA disagrees with the assertion by supporters that there has been a significant increase in the filing of non-meritorious litigation in the 20 years since the rule was revised to permit the discretionary imposition of sanctions.

Pretrial Practice & Motions

Colorado bill would have interfered with witness interviews

After the ABA expressed concerns this month that a bill pending in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee would have interfered with the duty of defense teams to seek to interview witnesses, the committee approved an amended bill March 17 that is in line with ABA policy and standards. The bill, House Bill 15-1218, addresses Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach (DIVO), which provides a process by which defense teams can meet with victim survivors and family members who also may be potential witnesses.