New MRCP

May 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned here before, the MSSC’s advisory committee on civil rules spent two years combing through the MRCP to identify language that needs to be updated, changed to reflect case law, and otherwise revised. A slew of proposed changes were sent up from the committee.

My earlier post is at this link.

This week the court handed down orders granting the committee’s motions on Rs 1 (Scope of the Rules), 15 (Amendments), 43 (Taking of Testimony), 63 (Disability of a Judge), and 71A (Eminent Domain). These particular amendments are minor and eliminate redundant and non-useful matter. The changes take effect July 1, 2020.

Proposed changes to Rs 6 and 56 are up for comment. The changes to 56 are particularly noteworthy.

This batch of amendments are likely harbingers of more to come, and you need to pay attention to what the court is doing so that you comply with and adapt to the changes.

Looking Ahead to 2020

December 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

If hindsight is, indeed 2020, then it follows that 2020 should be the year of hindsight, right?

But we do have some things to look forward to in 2020. So using foresight, here are some:

  • A slew of amended MRCP. The Supreme Court Civil Rules Advisory Committee has been busy over the past two years studying and revising the MRCP and Advisory Committee Notes to make them more functional, to address problems that have surfaced since the rules were adopted in 1982, and to clear up inconsistencies. The committee has sent a number of proposed amended rules up to the MSSC, and already the court has published an amended Rule 26. Look for plenty more in 2020. In fact, go to courts.ms.gov and click on Research/Rules/ Rules for Comment and you’ll see many there now for your study and comment. I encourage you to add your thoughtful comments. The end result of the changes will be more clarity and functionality.
  • New chancery court rules (UCCR). In October, the Conference of Chancery Judges unanimously approved new, revised UCCR and filed a motion with the MSSC to adopt them. If the court does adopt them, the several of you who do read and try to follow them will find them more accessible, clearer, updated, and consistent in form.
  • The GAP Act. It will be a new era for guardianships and conservatorships. Gone will be the confusing and sometimes contradictory web of statutes, replaced by a more streamlined system with clearer nomenclature and procedures. Yes, there will be a learning curve, and, yes, there are some tweaks that must be done in the upcoming legislative session to address some questions, but overall it will be an improvement.
  • Bell on Mississippi Family Law. Professor Bell is working on the third edition of her treatise, and it should be out in the new year.
  • New law every Tuesday and Thursday. For those of you who have bemoaned developments like those mentioned above, don’t forget that the law is ever-changing and evolving. Always has been and always will. If you question that, just read the hand-downs from the COA and MSSC every Tuesday and Thursday. There you will find weekly revelations, some of which challenge or even wipe out your long-held legal assumptions.

Should Mississippi Have a Class-Action Rule? Your Comments are Invited

November 7, 2017 § 5 Comments

The MSSC has tasked the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Civil Rules to study whether Mississippi should adopt a procedural rule allowing class actions. The committee is expected to recommend whether or not to do so, and, if the answer is positive, to propose how such a rule would operate.

The impetus for the referral comes from a motion filed with the court by Attorney Richard T, “Flip” Phillips to adopt Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

To refresh your recollection, when the MRCP was adopted in 1982, Rule 23 was omitted. Up until then, equitable principles allowed consolidation of actions into something resembling class actions in chancery. The MRCP put an end to that, and some used Mississippi’s liberal joinder laws to fashion mass litigation that proved to be nightmarish in implementation. The MSSC and venue legislation put the kibosh on that, and so we are left with no tools for anything resembling class actions.

Both sides on the issue point out that Mississippi is the only state that does not have any form of state-court class action. Virginia allows class action in only extremely limited circumstances. All other states have rules allowing class actions.

The committee is gathering information and hopes to be in a position to make a recommendation by the spring of next year.

What do you think? Should Mississippi have a rule allowing class actions? Your comments are invited and will be shared with the advisory committee.

Four Rules up for Comment

April 8, 2014 § 7 Comments

The MSSC has four rules posted for public comment at this link. In a nutshell, they are, with their respective deadlines for comment:

  • Appellate Mediation Pilot Program, deadline May 2, 2014. Would create a voluntary procedure to hold appeals in abeyance so that they can be mediated. This proposal arose out of the practice in other states, where the result has been a reduction in pending appeals and the time it takes to resolve them.
  • Amendment to MRCP 16, deadline May 26, 2014. Would amend MRCP 16 to require that, once a trial date is set, deadlines for summary judgment motions, expert motions, propounding and completion of discovery, and other procedural matters would automatically be in place. The provision that the parties or the judge may call for a pretrial conference remains unchanged.
  • Amendment to MRE 105, deadline April 28, 2014. Would amend the rule to put the responsibility on the court to ensure that there is a jury instruction as to the proper scope of evidence whenever the court admits evidence for a limited purpose. The requirement may be waived by the party affected.
  • Amendment to MRCP 3(c), deadline May 2, 2014. Would change the procedure for filing in forma pauperis to conform to statutes.        

All of our rules of court directly affect your everyday practice of law. This is your opportunity to have a voice in those rules. You do not have to be a senior partner in a high profile law firm for your opinion to count.

 

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