On March 26, Chief Justice John Roberts transmitted to Congress a slew of revisions to four different sets of federal procedural rules. By their terms and under the Rules Enabling Act, the changes will take effect December 1, 2009 -- unless the House and Senate pass legislation invalidating them.
Blawgletter glanced at one group -- those affecting the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure -- and noticed what looks like a welcome improvement. It pertains to every lawyer's favorite -- the computation of time.
Rule 6(a)(2), for example, has vexed and confounded lawyers by calling on them to exclude "intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays when the period [for taking some action, such as filing a pleading or motion] is less than 11 days." The exclusion had the effect of giving you at least 14 days to take the action that a rule or order seemed to require you to do in 10.
New Rule 6(a)(1)(B) will eliminate the mental gymnastics. It provides that you must "count every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sunday, and legal holidays" no matter what.
Other fixes extend the time for doing stuff. Existing Rule 6(c)(1), for instance, demands notice "at least 5 days" before a hearing; under the new regime, you'll generally get a minimum of 14.
The alterations to Rule 56 will add a time requirement for responding to a motion for summary judgment -- 21 days after service of the motion -- and for a reply -- 14 days after that. In the past, local rules governed those time limits.
Don't think we've come anywhere near exhausting the rules nouveau. Indeed, we suspect that the continuing legal education folks will promptly set to fashioning seminars that will orient us to the procedural vicissitudes that await us eight months hence.