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Suzette M. Malveaux spoke at the second of the semester's Faculty Speakers Series.
Suzette M. Malveaux, associate professor of law at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., spoke at Texas Wesleyan School of Law on Jan. 27. Professor Malveaux, whose presentation was part of the Faculty Speaker Series, discussed her forthcoming paper “Front Loading and Heavy Lifting: The Evolving Role of Discovery in Contemporary Civil Rights Litigation.” Thirty members of the law school’s faculty and staff attended the event which was held in the Bernie Schuchmann Conference Center.
The Faculty Speaker Series provides an environment to stimulate ideas for new faculty scholarship, promote collaboration regarding scholarship and teaching issues, and to enhance the intellectual development of the law school’s faculty. Outstanding scholars from around the country are invited to present their works-in-progress at the speaker series.
In her paper, Malveaux addresses the pleading standard, and argues that the federal rules of civil procedure are transsubstantive, but that their impact is not. “The confluence of the pleading requirement and dismissal criteria in recent interpretations by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Twombly and Iqbal cases has had a distinct, detrimental impact on civil rights cases that are alleging potential discrimination,” Malveaux said. “Recognition that civil rights claims are more vulnerable to dismissal because of the plausibility standard is an important first step. But that’s not enough.”
Malveaux explained that courts may exercise their broad discretion to grant discovery and manage their cases to serve the twin goals of efficiency and justice. She contended that the plausibility/pleading standard may also usher in a different role for discovery.
“Courts should consider narrow, targeted plausibility/discovery at the pleading stage to insure that the transsubstantive application of the rules do not work an injustice against those cases involving informational inequities, such as civil rights cases,” Malveaux argued. “There has not been a full examination of how plausibility discovery and predismissal discovery can level the playing field for those claims that are more vulnerable to the plausibility/pleading standard. My article attempts to fill this void.”