On Jan.12-13,  St. Mary’s University School of Law hosted a meeting of the United States Judicial Conference’s Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, the committee charged with reviewing and amending procedure used in federal courts. Commonly called the Standing Committee, it  meets twice a year: once in Washington, D.C. and once at another location. The meeting, open to the public, was held in the Alumni Room of the Sarita Kennedy East Law Library on the law school campus.

“Law students and the legal community had a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the process for considering amendments to the various federal rules,” said Dave Schlueter, St. Mary’s law professor.

The Standing Committee reviews and amends the various Rules of Procedure used in the federal courts: appellate, bankruptcy, civil, criminal and evidence. After review, the Committee coordinates the recommendations from the five advisory committees and recommends proposed changes to the Judicial Conference, chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court reviews any proposed rules changes and forwards them to Congress, which can reject or accept them.

The Standing Committee and five advisory committees are composed of federal judges, law professors, state Supreme Court chief justices and representatives of the Department of Justice. In addition, each committee has a reporter, a law professor, who coordinates the committees’ agendas and drafts proposed amendments and accompanying committee notes. Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, a federal district judge from Houston, is the current Committee Chair. The reporter is Dan Coquillete, former dean of Boston College Law School and currently a member of the faculties of Harvard Law School and Boston College Law School.

“We are very grateful to Judge Pat Higginbotham, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and visiting professor at St. Mary’s, who helped arrange for the Committee to meet here,” said Schlueter. 

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