Md. rules panel: Let feds do what they want on discovery

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland does not have to change its rules of civil procedure just because the federal courts amend theirs, the state Judiciary’s rules committee said Friday.

The committee followed the lead of litigation attorney James E. Carbine, who urged his fellow panel members not to adopt a recent change to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that permits litigants to make pre-trial requests of the opposition for documents and other information “relevant to any party’s claim and proportional to the needs of the case.” That change, which went into effect Dec. 1, replaces the federal rules’ stricter requirement that the items sought be “calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”

Carbine said Maryland should wait and see how the expanded discovery plays out in federal litigation before the state Judiciary considers adopting that standard as part of its rules of civil procedure.

“Let’s let a couple of years go by,” Carbine said, adding that 24 months is enough time to judge how federal courts are dealing with the new discovery standards.

In the meantime, Maryland’s discovery rules already contain a proportional standard, which has worked well in practice, added Carbine, who heads the discovery subcommittee of the Maryland Judiciary’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Carbine, a Baltimore solo practitioner. “The Maryland rules well address how a party responds to a request for documents.”


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