Civil justice reform in the federal government has become highly controversial. Each branch of the federal government apparently is vying to outdo the others in the field of civil justice reform. Congress passed the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 (CJRA) to reduce expense and delay in federal civil litigation, and the federal judiciary has been implementing that statute since late 1990. In December, 1991, the Montana Federal District Court became one of thirty-four federal districts which issued civil justice expense and delay reduction plans to qualify for designation as Early Implementation District Courts (EIDC) under the CJRA.

During October, 1991, the Bush Administration, in the name of civil justice reform, imposed numerous, relatively burdensome requirements on government counsel who litigate civil cases. Moreover, the Administration has introduced in Congress civil justice reform proposals that are unlikely to pass in 1992. The Administration has also developed model civil justice reform legislation which it is urging the states to adopt.

These developments in the federal sphere mean that the 1993 session of the Montana Legislature probably will consider some form of civil justice reform legislation for the Montana state court system. This essay evaluates whether the legislature should pass a civil justice reform statute. The paper first briefly examines the complications in civil litigation which led Congress to enact the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990. It then analyzes whether the Montana Legislature should adopt a civil justice reform measure. Because the piece finds that relatively few reasons for passing such legislation apply to the Montana state court system, the paper recommends that the Montana Legislature proceed cautiously in the area of civil justice reform.

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