BATON ROUGE – A Louisiana House Concurrent Resolution set for hearing on Monday looks largely like a bit of legislative housekeeping, but could have implications for discovery procedures attorneys in the state are required to follow.
The resolution places particular emphasis on "the exchange of expert reports, the surveillance of parties, and the exchange and discoverability of non-party recorded statements."
On its face, HCR 114 asks the Louisiana State Law Institute to examine the rules of discovery in the state's Code of Civil Procedure. Louisiana rules of discovery, or obtaining evidence from the other party or parties in a lawsuit, are detailed in the state's Code of Civil Procedure 1420 - 1427.
The Louisiana State Law Institute, located at Louisiana State University's Law School, has acted as an official law revision commission, law reform agency and legal research agency for the state since 1938. Requests like HCR 114 are common, Louisiana State Law Institute Director William E. Crawford said in an email interview with the Louisiana Record.
"It is the usual procedure for the Law Institute to receive study requests by legislative resolutions, and we are recipients of several such requests at each legislative session," Crawford said. "Since resolutions are in the form of specific requests for study, they usually pass without opposition and we immediately undertake the study of the legal issue with the goal of submission of a final report as soon as practicable and within the requested time period, if any, provided in the resolution."
HCR 114, sponsored by Rep. Robby Carter (D-Amite), was introduced into the House on May 5 and four days later referred to the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure. The resolution had been scheduled for hearing on May 16, but now is one of seven pieces of legislation scheduled to be heard beginning at 10 a.m. Monday in Committee Room 4.
As with any concurrent resolution that originates in the House, the resolution would have to pass the House and then the Senate before it would officially be sent onto the Louisiana State Law Institute.
HCR 114 doesn't specify exactly what state lawmakers want the Louisiana State Law Institute to examine about discovery rules as detailed in the state's Code of Civil Procedure, but there are some clues in the Whereas and Resolution portions of the resolution.
The Whereas portion of the resolution says the state's rules of discovery were "created to facilitate fair and just outcomes of lawsuits," as well as providing "rules for the discovery of evidence and obtaining expert reports," and "also sets forth limitations on producing surveillance of a party and provides parameters for discovering recorded statements." This portion of the resolution also notes "there is potential for the rules of discovery to be abused and exploited for tactical advantages in lawsuits" and that "the prevention of misuse of discovery to facilitate fair and just trials should be of the utmost importance to the people of Louisiana."
"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby urge and request the Louisiana State Law Institute to evaluate and analyze the rules of discovery in Louisiana, to consider these rules, and to make recommendations relative to establishing fair and consistent procedures for discovery, and in particular for the exchange of expert reports, the surveillance of parties, and the exchange and discoverability of non-party recorded statements."
The resolution also needs to spend time in Senate Committee on Judiciary A. Should the resolution pass both the House and Senate, a copy would be sent to Crawford for the Louisiana State Law Institute to begin its work. The institute would be expected to render its report before the 2017 regular session of the Louisiana State Legislature, according to the resolution.