Tag Archives: issues

In Minnesota, Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure Highlight Proportionality

On February 4, 2013, the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota adopted amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, including those affecting discovery.  Of particular note were amendments to Rules 1 and 26.  Specifically (and significantly), Rule 1 was amended to state that it is the responsibility of the parties and the court to assure proportionality throughout the litigation.  Accordingly, Rule 1 now states (new language is underlined):

These rules govern the procedure in the district courts of the State of Minnesota in all suits of a civil nature, with the exceptions stated in Rule 81.  They shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.

It is the responsibility of the court and the parties to examine each civil action to assure that the process and the costs are proportionate to the amount in controversy and the complexity and importance of the issues.  The factors to be considered by the court in making a proportionality assessment include, without limitation: needs of the case, amount in controversy, parties’ resources, and complexity and importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.

Similarly, in addition to other significant amendments to Rule 26, Rule 26.02(b) has been amended to require that the scope of discovery “comport with the factors of proportionality, including without limitation, the burden or expense of the proposed discovery weighed against its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.”  While such limitations to discovery were previously acknowledged, the amended rule more strongly emphasizes the importance of proportionality.

Significant amendments to other rules were also adopted.  Notably, an order attaching “corrective amendments” was entered several days later.  Those orders are available HERE and HERE.  The newly adopted amendments become effective July 1, 2013.

via In Minnesota, Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure Highlight Proportionality : Electronic Discovery Law.

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Filed under courts, discovery, District Court, electronic discovery, Judges, legal decision, Minnesota, rules, sanctions

Voting Flaws Widespread

If you read my Minnesota Lawyer – JD Rising article, accessed here, you will know that there are a lot of voting problems that affect voters.

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released a major new study which shoes that the flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread.  You can see the results via an interactive tool here.  The full brief can be accessed here.

The Pew Charitable Trusts ranked 50 states on 17 indicators, including but not limited to wait times, lost votes, problems with absentee and provisional ballots.  The study is based on data from the 2008 and 2010 elections.

The problematic findings are as follows.

  • Some states lost very few votes thanks to shortcomings in voting technology and voter confusion.  The best reporting failure rates was of 0.5% or less in 2008.  West Virginia’s rate was 3.2%.
  • Voter registration rejections varied.  North Dakota does not require voter registration, and Alabama and Kansas reported rejecting less than 0.05% of the applications in 2008.  Pennsylvania and Indiana each rejected more than half of the registration applications.
  • Arizona and California had the highest rates of problems with voter registration and absentee ballots.  In 2010, California rejected 0.7% absentee ballots, a higher rate than any other state.
  • In Colorado, where 70% of the voters cast ballots by mail in 2012, rejected 0.4% of ballots in 2010.
  • Nationwide, a bit over 1% of voters are given a provisional ballot.  In Arizona, the rate in 2008 was of 6.5%.  In Ohio, it was 3.6%.

Some of the other findings state:

  • In 2008, the 10 states with the shortest times had waits on average of fewer than 6 minutes.  South Carolina had the longest wait times of just over an hour.  Georgia had more than 37 minutes.
  • Only 8 States provided all possible voter lookup tools (Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin).  Only 2 States had no information at all (California and Vermont).
  • Six of the 10 states with the lowest rates of nonvoting due to registration problems (Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) have allowed Election Day registration for at least two decades.  North Dakota does not require voter registration.
  • The high performers are: Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • The low performers are: Alabama, California, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

 

via U.S. Voting Flaws Are Widespread, Study Shows – NYTimes.com.

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Filed under civil rights

Wisconsin labor fight heats up

Public school teachers filed a class action against a public school district that claims it can cut their pay at will and fine them up to $2,500 if they don’t sign their contracts on time.

The class action, which has a putative class size of 230 teachers, alleges that the school district’s contracts have illegal and unenforceable provisions.  For example, the contract allows

  1. The district to fire or reduced the pay and benefits of tenured teachers for vague and undefined reasons;
  2. The district can fine tenured teachers $1,000 to $2,500 if they don’t sign the contract by the time the school district wants it, or seek release from the contract.

The class action further claims:

  • The 2012-13 contracts illegally allow the district to “make salary adjustments ‘due to disciplinary action and/or changes in full-time equivalency warranted by the district,'” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21;
  • The contracts illegally allow the district to cut salary and benefits “if in the sole discretion of the district, the educator fails to meet the expectations referenced in the contract, acts in a manner that is not in the best interests of the district’s students, fails to abide by the terms of the Employee Handbook, fails to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the job description, or if the district decides to reduce the professional staff for financial or other lawful reasons,” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21, § 118.21, and state contract law; and
  • The contracts illegally set up “a liquidated damages schedule that begins assessing damages on June 1,” with fines beginning at $1,000, escalating to 2,500, for failing to sign contracts by June 15, or seeking release from contract; this “unlawfully assesses damages to teachers seeking release from their contracts prior to the statutory date for acceptance.”

The contracts state “that failure to return a signed contract … would result in non-renewal of the teacher’s contract,” the teachers say: “A stigma is attached to being non-renewed by a school district, as it suggests that a teacher’s employment was not continued for performance reasons or misconduct.”

The class cites violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.21, under which the school district must fix teachers’ wages, violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.22, under which the school district must set the contract acceptance date at June 15, and violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.23, under which it can terminate permanent only employees for good cause.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under labor, union