Fishing Expeditions Allowed: The Historical Background of the 1938 Federal Discovery Rules

55 Pages Posted: 27 May 2012  

Stephen Subrin

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 1998

Abstract

Prior to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Federal Rules"), discovery in civil cases in federal court was severly limited. The Federal Rules discovery provisions dramatically increased the potential for discovery. Authorized by the Rules Enabling Act of 1934 ("Enabling Act"), the Federal Rules became law in 1938. The Enabling Act was preceded by a twenty-three year battle, spearheaded primarily by a committee of the American Bar Association. During the Enabling Act debate, discovery was largely ignored. Attitudes about discovery changed significantly between 1932 and 1946. This paper addresses the questions of how and why the change occurred, what reservations the Federal Rules drafters and others had about the new discovery provisions and what future procedural reformers can learn from this earlier experience.

Suggested Citation

Subrin, Stephen, Fishing Expeditions Allowed: The Historical Background of the 1938 Federal Discovery Rules (May 1, 1998). Boston College Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 691-745, May 1998; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2067158

Stephen Subrin (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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