Federal Courts:

Pretrial Management of Civil Cases Varied at Selected District Courts

GGD-88-19: Published: Dec 31, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 12, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the progress made in the federal district courts in implementing the 1983 amendments to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provided for better management of civil cases.

GAO determined that: (1) 69 percent of the cases it reviewed had scheduling orders as the amended Rule required; (2) judges extended scheduling orders in about half of the cases reviewed; (3) use of pretrial conferences to expedite the settlement of cases varied from district to district and judge to judge; (4) judicial officers used alternatives to litigation, such as mediation or arbitration allowed by Rule 16, in 10 percent of the cases, but rarely imposed sanctions; and (5) judges and attorneys were supportive of Rule 16, although attorneys complained that the established time limits were too short.

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