Today, Abnormal Use inaugurates a new series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which this site will conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners and other commentators in the field. For the first installment, we turn to friend of the blog and law professor Rory Ryan, currently a member of the faculty at Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas. He teaches courses in Federal Courts, Civil Procedure, Appellate Procedure, and Constitutional Law. Professor Ryan was kind enough to answer the following questions (and even provide his own external links embedded into his responses). The interview is as follows:
1. What should attorneys practicing in federal court be aware of as we enter 2010?
(1) True notice pleading, as it seemingly existed a few years ago is dead. Become an expert in how your jurisdiction has interpreted the Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard, which is sometimes described as “Plausibility Pleading.”
(2) The Federal Rules have been “Restyled,” so pay attention to the new words (which aren’t supposed to have a different meaning);
(3) Major jurisdiction and venue legislation is pending. The Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2009 is too varied and nuanced to even highlight in this space, so I’ve attached the Section-by-Section Analysis from the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
2. What do you think is the most underutilized federal practice tool or technique?
Definitely impeachment. The alternative would be accepting that your local federal judge doesn’t answer to you and doesn’t care what you think of her, and few lawyers seem willing to accept this.
3. What is the most significant federal appellate court opinion to come out in the last year?
Ashcroft v. Iqbal from the Supreme Court, which solidifies that Twombly really did change the law. It has caused quite a stir both in the academy and among practitioners. And even for those who practice primarily in state court, it will be of interest to observe how many states follow the Supreme Court’s new rule. (I would call it an interpretation, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. The Court changed the law, and basically did so in a way that made the forms in the FRCPs fail the test set out by the rules. There’s a process for amending the Civil Rules—and that process involves Congress.)
4. What was the biggest surprise from the last U.S. Supreme Court term?
Citizens United, which was decided this term (in a mere 183 pages) but was carried over from last term. Maybe
wanna-be-JusticePresident Obama and Justice Alito need a beer summit to discuss the decision.
5. What advice would you offer to lawyers practicing in the area of products liability?
Read the following blogs: Drug and Device Law, Mass Tort Litigation Blog, and of course, Abnormal Use (this is where you add this blog to your RSS reader, (or learn what an RSS reader is and then add it.)) Also, learn everything you can about an important forum-selection tool you probably ignored in law school—fraudulent joinder.
BIOGRAPHY: Professor Rory Ryan joined the Baylor Law School faculty in 2004 after playing two sports and occasionally attending classes at Morningside College. He graduated first in his class, summa cum laude, from Baylor Law School, where his final G.P.A. ranks first among those recorded. After graduating from Baylor, Professor Ryan clerked for the Honorable C. Arlen Beam of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He maintains an active appellate practice before both Texas and federal courts and has published extensively on matters of federal procedure and jurisdiction.