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The Amended Federal Rules, 15 Brooklyn Law Review 1 (1948)


The amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States in December, 1946, became effective March 19, last. These represent the culmination of ten years of experience in uniform simplified procedure on a nationwide scale. This may well be the occasion for a little stock-taking, with now and then a glance at state practice in New York--always a shining target for legal reformers or scholars. The wonder is that so few real changes were found necessary as a result of the federal experience. Nearly all the amendments are limited to clarification and re-emphasis of the original objectives. Indeed the real innovations are limited to two concerning appeals. One reduces the time for notice of appeal from the usual three months to 30 days in most cases, or 60 where the United States is a party. The lengthy delay provided by the now superseded statute-unusual in state practice--seemed unjustified, particularly in that the simple and informal notice itself merely begins the appellate process. The other is a provision authorizing appellate courts to review cases on the original papers--a final step, approaching the English system, in a steady trend toward dispensing with the waste of time, expense, and brain power caused by the ancient deification of the printed record. A single other amendment-that dealing with impleader of third parties--represents something of a withdrawal from an advanced position to that steadily held in England and now in New York since the revision here in 1946. The original rules provided for a citing in at the instance of a defendant not only of a third party liable to him solely or together with the plaintiff, but also of one liable to the plaintiff alone. This adaptation from admiralty practice did not prove too successful in forcing a new defendant on an unwilling plaintiff, especially in view of the exigencies and restrictions of federal jurisdiction. It is the sole instance of retreat, and may still suggest possibilities for experimentation in the states where the rigidities of federal jurisdiction do not obtain.

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The Amended Federal Rules, 15 Brooklyn Law Review 1 (1948)

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