Congress passed the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 (CJRA) because it was increasingly concerned about litigation and discovery abuse in federal civil cases, growing cost and delay in such suits, and decreasing access to federal courts. The statute requires that all ninety-four federal district courts develop civil justice expense and delay reduction plans by December 1993. Thirty-four districts issued plans by December 1991, and the Judicial Conference of the United States recently designated these districts as Early Implementation District Courts (EIDC).

Three of those EIDCs, the Eastern District of Virginia, the Northern District of West Virginia, and the Southern District of West Virginia, are located in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, while the remaining six districts in the Circuit have been proceeding with the development of their civil justice plans. Because implementation of the Civil Justice Reform Act is an important attempt to reduce expense and delay in civil litigation, which could significantly affect the character of federal civil practice, effectuation of civil justice reform in the Fourth Circuit warrants close analysis. This essay undertakes that effort.

The piece first examines the background of civil justice reform, focusing on the statutory requirements and on the Act's national implementation. The paper then evaluates effectuation of civil justice reform in the Fourth Circuit, emphasizing developments in the three EIDCs and describing relevant work to date in the other districts. The essay concludes with suggestions for future implementation of civil justice reform in the Fourth Circuit.

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