Law School Is Site Of A Major Conference

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

In a meeting with broad implications for the American justice system, including the billion-dollar litigation industry, the Committee on Civil Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States will hold a symposium on civil discovery rules at Boston College Law School today and tomorrow.

Some of the nation's leading federal judges, trial lawyers and academicians are expected to attend the event, where they will discuss possible changes in federal rules aimed at making the civil litigation process fairer and more efficient.

Monan Professor of Law Daniel Coquillette, who serves as reporter to the Judicial Conference's Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, said, "Discovery in complex cases is getting too expensive and too complicated. Parties that should win should be able to do so as cheaply and as quickly as possible, and those who should lose should not be able to engage in 'fishing expeditions' to delay, or to run up costs."

Changes in discovery rules could have a wide-ranging impact on product liability litigation, as well as on civil rights and labor cases, and a "galaxy of important subjects," Coquillette said. Furthermore, any changes may be adopted by state courts as well, further broadening their effect.

The first day of the symposium will feature panel discussions on lawyers' views of the discovery process, and of uniformity and disclosure. Reports on analyses of the situation conducted by the Judicial Conference and the Rand Corp. also will be presented.

Tomorrow, proposals and discussions of reforms will be featured, as will an overview of the Judicial Conference's efforts in the area since 1970.

The conference will be chaired by US Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, chairman of the Civil Rules Committee; US District Court Judge David F. Levi, chairman of the Discovery Subcommittee; Richard Marcus, distinguished professor of law at the University of California's Hastings College of Law; and University of Michigan Law Professor Edward Cooper.

Among the individuals slated to participate in the symposium are federal judges Edward Becker, Patrick Higgenbotham and Robert Keeton; law professors Arthur Miller and Geoffrey Hazard; and practicing attorneys Harvey Kaplan and Robert Klein, among others. In addition, senior members of the US Justice Department will participate.

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