Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Supreme Court Adopts New Circuit Court Civil Rules

About a year ago, the Supreme Court and the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration initiated an effort to address the increasing cost and delay involved in civil litigation in Wyoming’s courts. It began with a survey of the bench and bar attitudes about those problems and how they may be addressed. Not surprisingly, the results of that survey confirmed that both lawyers and judges believed that civil litigation took too long and costs too much. At last year’s bar convention, a panel discussion addressed the issues in general and one of the most obvious solutions that emerged was to increase the jurisdiction of the circuit courts to help relieve the increasing demands on the district courts and better utilize the circuit courts.  The underlying assumption was that cases could move more quickly and efficiently in circuit courts.  The first step was the passage of legislation to authorize the increase in jurisdiction to $50,000. During that process, the legislature made it clear that it expected the rules of procedure applicable in circuit court would be reviewed and revised, if necessary, to encourage expeditious handling of cases in circuit court.  The circuit court judges undertook that effort with the assistance of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System with the goal of providing discovery proportional to the size of the case, greater pre-trial case management, and prompt trial settings. The draft prepared by the circuit court judges was then reviewed and commented upon by the Wyoming Bar Association’s Permanent Civil Rules Advisory Committee. Ultimately, the rules were approved by the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration and the Supreme Court. These rules will become effective July 1, 2011 to coincide with the effective date of the legislation increasing circuit court jurisdiction.  Congratulations are in order to all who assisted in the effort.
The Rules can be found on our website at: