The federal magistrate judges who will be applying the amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have many resources available to guide them in their day-to-day implementation of the concept of “proportionality” in discovery, as well as the other changes that took effect on December 1, 2015.
For more than a year, the judges have had available to them workshops at national and regional meetings as well as online programs for their training and guidance. The extensive written commentary about the changes in the rules has been and will continue to be particularly helpful. Attorneys who want to be well prepared may want to consult some of the same written resources that the judges already are using.
As noted by Chief United States Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen of the District of New Mexico, in a conversation with this author, the rules amendment process emphasized that the amendments are intended to make the judicial process move more quickly and be less costly, by promoting increased cooperation among the parties and active judicial case management, and by imposing the application of proportionality to establish the scope of discovery. The concept of increased cooperation speaks for itself. The concept of active judicial case management is implemented in the changes by encouraging “live” case management conferences under Rule 16(b)(1) and by encouraging “pre-motion conferences” under Rule 16(b)(3), by granting to the judges the discretion to include in the scheduling order that, before moving for an order related to discovery, the movant must request a conference with the court.