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Trump SCOTUS Potential Proposes Discovery Ban on Cases Under $500K

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 11, 2018 4:10 PM

We've heard so much about Russians, collusion, and porn stars, it's getting really old.

If it weren't for stories about Mueller, Cohen, and Kavanaugh, many lawyers would have tuned out the saga of scandals. But now comes a presidential/legal development that should concern attorneys across America.

One potential Supreme Court nominee proposes eliminating discovery in federal cases worth less than $500,000. It won't make the 6 o'clock news, but associate attorneys should start thinking about what they will do for work next.

Trump's Short List

Even BigLaw lawyers cut their teeth on cases under half a million dollars. The way it sounds, however, a U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge looks at them like small claims.

Judge Thomas Hardiman, who made President Trump's short list, told the Federalist Society his idea to shorten trials: eliminate discovery.

"If I were able to do something unilaterally, I would probably institute a new federal rule that said all cases worth less than $500,000 would be tried without any discovery," he said.

While some people may have adjusted their hearing aids, many in attendance applauded. Another judge also endorsed the proposal.

Double-Down Discovery

Sixth Circuit Judge Amul Thapar, another Supreme Court potential, said clients and lawyers would be happier if they could get to trial faster. Then Hardiman took it even further.

"How many clients win, and the judgment they earned was less than the fees they paid their lawyer?" Hardiman said. "That's a Pyrrhic victory."

It takes only two judges to form a majority on a federal appeals panel, but Thapar and Hardiman appear to be in the minority nationwide. For now, discovery and associates will probably work the same old way.

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