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NCJ Number
Trial Volume: 29 Issue: 4 Dated: (April 1993) Pages: 45-46,49-50
R H Glover
Date Published
4 pages
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the "Rocket Docket," has consistently had the fastest trial docket in the United States by means of an active bench and rigid limits on discovery.
For the Eastern District the median time from date of filing to date of disposition is 5 months; for cases actually tried, the median time is 7 months. The speed of case processing is not due to a reduced caseload; compared with the 93 other Federal district courts, the Eastern District has the 12th greatest number of complex commercial cases filed annually. The court's local rules streamline the discovery process and deal with discovery disputes almost immediately. Among other things, the local rules reduce pretrial discovery by prohibiting more than 30 interrogatories regardless of any agreement by counsel, limiting nonparty depositions to five without leave of the court, requiring the party taking depositions outside the jurisdiction to prepay opposing counsel's travel expenses, and by requiring that all objections to discovery requests be made within 15 days of the service of the request. The bench also pushes lawyers to eliminate unnecessary pretrial motions or duplicative witnesses and evidence at trial. The court routinely denies all continuances of any kind, and lawyers cannot expect extensions unless they are dead or have a medical certificate that assures death within a few days. This article also discusses the impact of the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 on efficient case processing. 22 notes