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Proposed Changes in Federal Rules Threaten to Rig Courts in Favor of Corporations, against Working People

For Immediate Release

Contact Michael O’Keefe Cowles, Attorney, Equal Justice Center – Dallas

Dallas Hearing on Feb. 7 to address controversial changes to federal courts

A hearing on proposed changes to alter the federal rules of civil procedures is set for Friday, Feb. 7, in Dallas. The proposed rule changes would significantly alter our legal system, making it much harder for poor people, small businesses, and all those with minimal resources to access the justice system and have their day in court.

Opponents of the proposed changes include national and state-wide civil rights and workers’ rights organizations as well as local private lawyers, including the NAACP, the Equal Justice Center, Alliance for Justice, National Employment Law Project, National Employment Lawyers Association, and many others.

“These changes would create an unnecessary hurdle for working class people to exercise their rights and have their day in court. The changes fundamentally alter the balance in the justice system in favor of big corporate interests,” said Michael O’Keefe Cowles, head of the Dallas office of the Equal Justice Center.

“Currently poor and working class people already face barriers to the justice system because their claims are often for minimal amounts, and they often cannot obtain an attorney. The proposed rules would further restrict access to justice for these people by restricting what information litigants could have access to when facing bigger and much more well-funded corporate opponents,” said Cowles.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establish how civil lawsuits are filed, pursued, and tried in federal courts. The proposed Rules changes would severely limit discovery, decrease the number and length of depositions and remove incentives to preserve critical documents. This will have a chilling effect on civil rights, employment discrimination, and other protections because the information needed to prove these types of case is often in the sole possession of the corporation.