July 14, 2004

The meeting was called to order at approximately 12:15 p.m. by Co-Chair Kathleen Wilkinson of the State Civil Committee.

I. Introduction
Kathleen Wilkinson welcomed everyone to the meeting and provided an overview of the events occurring since the last regularly scheduled meeting, including the special joint meeting in June concerning the formation of the State Civil Litigation Section.

II. State Civil Litigation Section
Ms. Wilkinson then set forth the steps which were taken to present the Board of Governors with a formal petition and resolution seeking Section status. As explained by Ms. Wilkinson, at the special meeting in June, agreement was reached on proposed by-laws and the required petition and resolution were then submitted to the Board of Governors the week following the special meeting. Following a presentation to the Board of Governors, and a few questions concerning technical matters, the Board of Governors approved the resolution seeking Section status. Ms. Wilkinson then turned the meeting over to Ron Kovler, Chair of the Board of Governors.

Mr. Kovler initially offered to answer any questions any member had as to the proposed Section. Mr. Kovler also outlined again some of the significant benefits of Section status, including self-governance and representation on the Board of Governors. Thereafter, there was a discussion about the operation and benefits of the proposed Section.

III. Update On Discovery Subcommittee
Mark Tanner then provided the members of the Committee with an update on efforts made to improve matters in Discovery Court. The National Committee for State Courts has provided a draft report to Common Pleas Court concerning proposals for possible improvements in the Court. The Discovery Subcommittee is not able to receive a copy of the draft report but will receive a copy of the final report. Mr. Tanner then noted that he had been advised that the primary issue identified for resolution was the number of inconsequential motions filed in Discovery Court. Among the possible solutions being considered are:

  • an initial conference, with the Judicial Team Leaders presiding, to identify issues at an early date;
  • mandatory discovery disclosures similar to the federal rules;
  • a service of a notice of opposition to a discovery motion to determine if a matter will, in fact, be contested; and
  • updating standard discovery requests. It was agreed by the members of the Committee that the Committee would await receipt of the final report before any further suggestions are pursued with the Court.

IV. Civil Practice Issues
The members of the Committee then discussed a series of issues that have arisen, in particular, the following:

  • discovery in aid of execution now being assigned to Motion Court instead of Discovery Court;
  • matters being assigned to a standard discovery track, rather than a complex track, simply because "premises" was identified as one of the types of matters at issue in the Civil Cover Sheet;
  • efforts to place cases into Alternative Dispute Resolution without having to discontinue an action; and
  • possible changes to the Bar Association website, as to the State Civil Committee, to provide information that will be of assistance to members of the bar.

As to the last issue, a subcommittee will be formed to consider and propose possible website changes.

V. State Civil Committee Survey
Members of the committee then discussed some of the issues arising from the results of the State Civil Committee Survey previously conducted. The primary matters discussed were issues involving interaction between the Court and the bar and what steps, if any, which could be taken to improve such interaction. It was discussed that, with Section status, and membership by a member of the Court as an ex officio member on the Section Executive Committee, there may be available an opportunity for liaison with the Court and the Section. Another idea for consideration was a subcommittee of senior members of the trial bar to discuss substantive issues with the Court.

VI. Next Meeting
The next meeting is currently scheduled for Aug. 4 at the usual location at the bar association. The members agreed that the agenda for the meeting should be proposed rule changes in the area of the new malpractice rules.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 1:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Gregg W. Mackuse