The United States Supreme Court promulgated the 1983 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure out of growing concern about abuse of the civil litigation process. The most controversial aspect of the implementation of these revisions has been judicial enforcement of amended Rule 11 (the Rule) in ways that disadvantage or "chill" civil rights plaintiffs and attorneys. As the federal judiciary enters its eighth year of implementing the Rule, courts apparently have improved their application of it by becoming more solicitous of the needs of civil rights plaintiffs and their counsel, in recognition of the important social function that civil rights litigation fulfills in combatting discrimination.
The first section of this article briefly examines the Rule's early implementation and the disadvantages that enforcement had for civil rights plaintiffs and attorneys. The second section analyzes recent developments suggesting that judicial application of the Rule has improved. Precisely how widespread such enforcement actually has been or will become is unclear. These complications prevent definitive conclusions about whether the improved application will suffice for civil rights plaintiffs. Given the present uncertainty, the third section of this article provides suggestions for the future. It proposes that the Supreme Court, the Advisory Committee and Congress expeditiously amend the Rule and offers suggestions for judicial enforcement until the Rule is revised.
Carl Tobias, Rule 11 Recalibrated in Civil Rights Cases, 36 Vill. L. Rev. 105 (1991)