During the 1980s, both the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the policy-making arm of the federal courts, and Congress evinced increasing concern about the proliferation of local civil procedures, such as local rules and the procedures that individual judges apply The Judicial Conference and Congress were particularly troubled by those local procedural requirements that conflicted with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Federal Rules) or provisions of the United States Code.
In 1986, the Judicial Conference commissioned the Local Rules Project to collect and organize all local rules, standing orders of individual judges, and other local procedural strictures. In 1989, the Local Rules Project published a comprehensive report finding that judges had prescribed approximately 5,000 local rules and many additional procedures - variously characterized as general, standing, special, scheduling, or minute orders - that regulate local practice. Quite a few of these requirements conflicted with the Federal Rules, provisions of the United States Code, or procedures used m the other ninety-three districts. Districts and individual judges had adopted and applied inconsistent procedures, despite prohibition of this practice in the Rules Enabling Act and in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 83 (Rule 83).
The Local Rules Project determined that the local requirements covered a broad array of procedural topics. The most widely prescribed procedures governed the pretrial process, especially pretrial conferences and discovery. A number of judges fashioned and implemented measures for tracking and attempting comparatively early m litigation to resolve routine, simple lawsuits, and numerous districts imposed presumptive numerical limitations on interrogatories.
The federal Judiciary and Congress responded m several ways to the complications that local proliferation presented. The Judicial Conference supported the 1985 revision of Rule 83, which requires that districts adopt local rules after providing public notice and opportunity for comment and that individual-Judge standing orders be consistent with the Federal Rules and the local rules of the district m which the Judge sits. The advisory committee note that accompanied the 1985 amendment asked that all districts implement processes for issuing and reviewing these orders and requested that circuit Judicial councils assess all local rules for validity and for consistency with· the Federal Rules and local procedures m the remaining districts
Carl Tobias, Suggestions for Circuit Court Review of Local Procedures, 52 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 99 (1996)