CHICAGO — The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, with courthouses in Chicago and Rockford, recently began taking part in a pilot program designed to expedite the way standard discovery is exchanged between litigants.
On June 1, the court began the program, dubbed the “Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project,” which will evaluate if requiring litigants to fulfill early discovery requests before undertaking others makes the process smoother. The organizers hope the project will lead to reductions in cost and delays.
“Our district is proud to be on the front lines of this program and is eager to provide feedback to the Judicial Conference Rules Committees that will help assess the viability of mandatory initial discovery in larger district courts across the country,” Chief Judge Rubén Castillo told the Cook County Record in a statement. “We are eager to support the judiciary’s plans to test the workability of such a program and will be making a number of resources available to assist attorneys in fulfilling their obligations.”
In total, 17 judges, including all magistrate judges in the Eastern Division, will be taking part in the first-of-its-kind program.
Standing order requirements will also require all parties to file answers, counterclaims, cross-claims and replies within stipulated time guidelines, even if the defendant’s plan revolves around a strategy to file a motion to dismiss.
Judges will now have the complete discretion of determining if plaintiffs will be granted any additional time in fulfilling all of their obligations at the time of filing.
As for defendants, beyond being required to adhere to tighter deadlines, they will also be expected to thoroughly evaluate the strategic value of every aspect of motions to dismiss, the court said.