Sunday, October 11, 2009

Federal Rule Change Re Computation of Time

On December 1st, when the amendments to the Federal Rules become effective, a day will be counted as a day, whether it is a weekend day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other recognized holiday day. That will be true regardless of the number of days allowed for the response.

New Rule 6(a)(1)(B) states: "to count every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays." The Report of the Judicial Conference states that the reason for the change was to "make the method of computing time consistent, simpler, and clearer." If a deadline is measured in hours, The new Rule says hours are counted the same way. Every hour is counted.

Counting Is Different Depending On Whether You Are Counting Forward Or Backward

The basic rules of when to start counting days, and when to stop, won't change under the new Rule. The day of the act or event that triggers the count still isn't included. You start counting the following day. If the last day of the count falls on a weekend day or on a state or federal holiday, the count still extends forward to the next day that is not a weekend day or holiday.
The count also gets extended if the final day falls on a day that the court is "inaccessible," to the first accessible day. The term "inaccessible" isn't limited, as it is currently, to lack of accessibility caused by "weather or other conditions." The new advisory committee notes to Rule 6 suggest that inaccessibility might include "an outage of the electronic filing system.

Things are also different if you are counting backwards. The new Rule 6 allows you to get to the "next day" when counting backwards, you continue to count backwards if the last day of the count is a weekend or holiday. So if your last day is Saturday, the filing is due the Friday before that Saturday.

Holidays are treated differently between a backward count and a forward count. If you are counting backwards, and the last day is a state holiday (not a federal holiday), then the count ends on the state holiday. If you hit a federal holiday, however, you continue counting backwards to the next business day. But forward counts treat state and federal holidays in the same way.

New Definition Of The "Last Day"

There's now specific definition of the meaning of "last day," contained in new Rule 6(a)(4). For paper filings, the last day ends "when the clerk's office is scheduled to close." For electronic filing, the last day ends "at midnight in the court's time zone."

What About Three Days For Mailing?

Rule 6(d), which gives lawyers an additional three days if served by mail or e-filing, remains the same. That seems odd, given the definition of "last day" taking into account e-filing procedures and the widespread use of electronic filing.

Response Periods For Discovery Responses, Summary Judgment, And Other Matters

The change in counting methodology resulted in the adjustment of a number of different response time periods set out in the Rules.

The time for responding to a complaint, formerly 20 days, will be 21 days.

As for summary judgment, there is a new version of Rule 56(c)(1)(A), which says that in the absence of local rule, a party can move for summary judgment at any time up until thirty days after the close of discovery. The response is due 21 days later, and the reply is due 14 days after that.

The time for responding to interrogatories and document requests isn't affected by the rule changes and are still thirty days. Learn more from an powerpoint from the federal judiciary website, titled "The Days Of Our District Court Lives."

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