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Revisions to D.C. Superior Court Rules for Civil Procedure

October 21, 2015 By Erin H. Cancienne

D.C. promulgated new superior court rules for civil procedure.  These rules took effect on October 12, 2015 and will govern all proceedings filed after that date, as well as all proceedings already pending, to the extent it is fair and practicable.  A complete copy of a redline version of all of the changes can be found here

Many of the changes are minor changes that have no real impact on case handling.  However, three of the rules changed should be noted by all who have cases in the District of Columbia.

Rule 16 – Pretrial Conferences, Pretrial Status Conferences and Scheduling Management

There were several changes in this rule. 

First, with regard to interrogatories, requests for admission, request for production and motions for physical or mental examinations, they must be served 30 days before the date set for the end of discovery.  The rule previously allowed them to be served up to the date set for the end of discovery.  Now, it must be served 30 days earlier. 

Similarly for any depositions and subpoenas, the notice must be served no less than 5 days before the date for the deposition, and the deposition must occur before the deadline as well.  The prior rule did not say how many days prior to a deposition the notice must be given.

Finally, the deadlines for what to do prior to a pretrial conference the rules have made changes.  The new rule requires that at four weeks prior to the pretrial conference, the attorneys and any unrepresented parties must meet in person to discuss several issues.  The prior rule allowed that meeting to occur 3 weeks prior to the pretrial.  The new rule requires Motions in Limine and other pretrial motions to be filed 3 weeks prior to the pretrial conference. The prior rule allowed those motions to be filed 2 weeks prior to the pretrial. 

Parties in D.C. should be aware that discovery should be completed as early as possible to avoid pitfalls with these changes.  The scheduling order can only be changed with a showing of good cause. 

Rule 26 – Duty to Disclose; General Provisions Governing Discovery

The major changes in this rule revolve around experts and disclosures of experts.  Previously, the District of Columbia did not require full production of written reports at the time the experts were disclosed.  Now, a written report is required for any expert expected to testify.  This report must be disclosed at the same time the expert is designated.  This rule brings Superior Court disclosure requirements more in line with the current federal court requirements regarding expert disclosures.  This requirement can be tricky when expert disclosures are being made early in the litigation and before written discovery is even completed.

In addition, the duty to disclose requires a party to disclose the exact nature of any items claimed privileged with an express claim of privilege.  This disclosure is to allow the other party to assess the privilege claim.

Rule 33 – Interrogatories to Parties

This rule now requires parties to make available interrogatories in an electronic format which allows the receiving party to copy and paste the interrogatories into responses.  Rule 34 governing request for production and Rule 36 governing Request for Admission now have similar requirements.  While this requirement may seem minor, this could be interesting when parties use different software that is not compatible (WordPerfect and Word).  It is unclear how the courts would enforce this rule if the parties do not use the same software and possibly do not have access to the same software.

Parties in D.C. need to be aware of the revisions to these rules and of all of the already existing rules of civil procedure to proceed successfully in litigation.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding these changes, or how these changes would apply to your specific case, please contact DeCaro Doran for more specific guidance.