Revisions to the Montana Uniform District Court Rules went into effect on Jan. 1.
The most substantive is the addition of a new Rule 6: Simplified Procedure for Civil Cases. The stated purpose of the Simplified Procedure is to protect the right to trial by jury in civil actions; to provide maximum access to the district courts and opportunity for citizens to participate in the civil justice system in civil actions; to enhance the provision of the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of civil actions; to facilitate limited discovery and decrease expenses; and to provide opportunities or counsel to train in civil trial practice. The Simplified Procedure applies to all civil actions in which a jury trial has been requested. Attorneys are required to educate and consult with their clients about it and be prepared to elect or decline the Simplified Procedure process at the initial scheduling conference.
The Simplified Procedure calls for the court to set the case for trial within six months following issuance of the scheduling order “or as soon as the court's schedule allows.” It also spells out requirements for Initial Disclosures, Lay Witness Statements, Expert Witness Reports, Discovery, Discovery Disputes, and Pretrial Motions.
Among other changes to the Uniform Rules, one rule – the former Rule 6 - Briefs – was incorporated into a reorganization of Rule 2 – Motions. Also, stylistic and grammatical changes were made throughout.