Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act opposed by ABA

The ABA has issued a letter to members of the House of Representatives urging them to oppose the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act:

In a letter (PDF) to members of the House of Representatives, the ABA urges representatives to vote “no” when the “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” is brought to a vote.

The ABA objects that the bill circumvents the Rules Enabling Act, and that with no demonstrated problem with the enforcement or operation of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure it would impose mandatory sanctions for any violation of Rule 11, removing current safe harbor provisions; enforce a mandatory suspension from practicing law if a lawyer has violated Rule 11 three times; impose federal mandatory Rule 11 sanctions upon any civil state court claim that materially affects interstate commerce; and impose specific venue designation rules upon personal injury claims filed in any state or federal court.

The ABA notes that the process under the Rules Enabling Act is driven by recognition that rules of evidence and procedure are inherently matters of concern to the judiciary, which must apply them; that each rule is part of an intricate, interlocking whole requiring deliberation and public comment to avoid unintended consequences; and that the United States Judicial Conference is in a unique position to draft rules with care in a setting isolated from pressures that may interfere with painstaking consideration and due deliberation.

“We do not question Congressional power to regulate the practice and procedure of federal courts,” the letter says. But “[t]he fact that the proposed changes to the Rules are flawed should give pause to those who are asked to support the circumvention of the process of the Rules Enabling Act. Not following the processes set forth in the Rules Enabling Act would frustrate the purpose of the act and potentially harm the effective functioning of the judicial system.”
The ABA also questioned the bill’s attempt to impose federal sanctions on the individual state courts, which it says would “violate our time-honored principles of federalism.”


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