• Amendments to Local and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Change Timing and Filing Requirements
  • November 20, 2009 | Authors: Elizabeth A. Larsen; Eric A. Rice
  • Law Firm: Leonard, Street and Deinard, [incorporation phrase format]Professional Association - Minneapolis Office
  • New amendments to the Local Rules and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will affect every matter heard in the District of Minnesota and other federal courts. Practitioners should be well-versed in the amended rules to avoid damaging procedural missteps.

    The amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure take effect on December 1, 2009. The most significant change appears in Fed. R. Civ. P. 6, which generally controls the calculation of deadlines and timing for service of pleadings, motions and discovery responses. Currently, Rule 6 includes weekends and holidays in calculating the number of days a party has to serve or file a document under some circumstances, but omits them in other circumstances. As such, a party had to be careful to determine which set of timing rules applied to their situation. The new Rule 6 disposes of this distinction and adopts the "days-are-days" approach.

    Under the new method, every day will be counted—regardless of whether it is a weekday, weekend or holiday. This new method will prevent parties from gaming the timing rule by filing a document on a particular day of the week and will make the timing rules easier to follow. Because the amendment to Rule 6 revises the approach to calculating and timing deadlines for service and filing, the majority of the other changes to the Federal Rules set forth revised deadlines.

    Deadlines under the new rules are now prescribed in multiples of seven. Thus, what were 1-, 3- or 5-day deadlines under the old rules will become 7-day deadlines, and a 10- or 11-day deadline will become a 14-day deadline. Although this is the general approach followed by the amendments, parties should review the amendments carefully to note deviations and exceptions to this method, such as the extension from 10 days to 28 days for post-judgment filings in Fed. R. Civ. P. 50, 52, and 59.

    In addition to calculating deadlines and timing, additional amendments will also take effect.

    • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 48(c) will allow for a juror poll. This juror poll parallels an existing Criminal Rule and allows either party or the court to poll individual jurors regarding their verdict.
    • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1 will allow a party to get an "indicative ruling" on a motion from the district court while an appeal is pending. This rule will typically arise when a party files a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from a final judgment. Under the old rules, a district court could not grant relief if an appeal was pending. This would waste judicial resources if a district court would have granted relief from a final judgment but could not do so until an appeal was completed. Under this new rule, a court may defer ruling, deny the motion or indicate that the motion raises a substantial issue or that the court would likely grant the motion if the issue is remanded. Thus, judicial resources can be conserved if a district court indicates that it would likely grant the motion even without the appeal.
    • Practitioners should also review the recently enacted amendments to the Local Rules of Civil Procedure for the District of Minnesota. These amendments became effective on September 24, 2009. The amendments include changes to Local Rule 7.1, which governs civil motion practice. Under the new local rule, a party must secure a hearing date before any motion is filed; motions to exclude expert testimony are treated as dispositive motions; and parties do not need to attach unpublished opinions to briefs if the opinions are available in a publicly accessible electronic database. Additionally, Local Rule 15.1, which governs motions to amend pleadings, now requires parties to attach both the proposed amended pleading and a redlined version of the pleading showing how it differs from the original.
    • Finally, the District of Minnesota is currently considering proposed amendments to the Local Rules. These proposed amendments would revise current deadlines to comport with the new timing method under the Federal Rules, addressed above, and establish new procedures for bringing a motion for an award of attorney's fees under Local Rule 54.3.

    These new amendments will affect all phases and types of federal civil litigation, so it is important to understand the changes. Although some of the rule changes are generally discussed above, a thorough and careful review of the new rules is recommended. You can find more information on the Federal Rules at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/ and more information on the District of Minnesota's Local Rules at http://www.mnd.uscourts.gov/.