Several years ago in the pages of this journal, I asked and attempted to answer the question whether the 1993 session of the Montana Legislature should adopt a civil justice reform act. The article initially afforded a brief analysis of the problems in federal civil litigation that prompted the United States Congress to pass the Civil Justice Reform Act (CJRA) of 1990. I next evaluated whether the state legislature in Montana should enact similar legislation which would govern civil litigation in the state court system. Because there were relatively few important reasons for adopting a measure covering civil justice reform in the Montana courts, I suggested that the 1993 legislature act cautiously in the controversial, unsettled field of civil justice reform.
The 1993 Montana Legislature appropriately decided against enacting any civil justice reform statute during its legislative session. The legislature did, however, adopt House Bill 525 which established a Judicial Unification and Finance Commission and directed that entity to study the organizational and financial structures of the Montana judiciary. The legislation more specifically instructed the Commission to consider the judiciary's possible unification, present and future funding for the judiciary, issues relating to the standards and selection of judges and additional matters regarding the judiciary's efficient operation.
During the ensuing two years, nothing of sufficient consequence has happened in Montana to warrant the passage of comprehensive civil justice reform legislation, although numerous developments have occurred in federal civil justice reform and in state civil justice reform in a number of jurisdictions. These recent developments deserve evaluation to ascertain whether they compel reexamination of the earlier decision not to pass civil justice reform legislation in Montana.
Carl Tobias, Studying Montana State Civil Justice Reform, 56 Mont. L. Rev. 319 (1995)