The new April 15, 2014 rules says within 60 days of an answer, the parties must confer...then within 14 days after that, submit the joint report. When does conferring end, thereby starting the timer on the 14 days? It seems that the items a Joint Report requires cant be established right away, making it seem like the Joint Report is a waste of time (overall) and in violation of rule 16(a) that says its purpose is discouraging wasteful pretrial activities.
The pretrial conference is a meeting where the parties share evidence, schedules, and answer procedural questions [See Rule 16(b)(1-19) for specific disclosure subjects]. Procedurally, this substantially economizes the litigation process.
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