A recent post described proposed changes to the Local Rules of Court for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. For the most part, the rule changes addressed changes in the time periods for action required under the rules.
The new theme is "days are days." All days are to be counted. If a deadline falls on a weekend day, a federal holiday, or a day when filing is impossible because the Clerk’s office is closed or inaccessible, then the deadline falls to the next available day. Deadlines shorter than 30 days have been changed to multiples of seven (7) days, so that more often than not, the deadline will fall on a weekday. Other changes affect how to tell when the last day of a period ends, how to compute hourly time periods, how to calculate a time period when the clerk’s office is inaccessible, and how to compute backward-counted periods that end on a weekend or holiday. The rules also clarify the long held understanding that when e-filing is involved, a due date runs until midnight in the time zone of that court’s clerk’s office.
There are now new time periods in Rules 6, 12, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72 and 81. Rules that previously called for 1, 3 or 5-day periods become 7-day periods. Deadlines that were previously 10 or 11 days become 14 days, and periods that were once 20 days become 21 days. For example, a response to a motion for summary judgment is now due 21 days later, and reply, where permitted, 14 days after that. Important exceptions are found in Rules 50, 52 and 59. Periods of 10 days in those rules become 28 days under the new rules.
Unremarked upon in the official commentary, and in all the blogging that this author has seen, is the deletion of the rule adding time for service by mail. The changes delete Rule 6(d) which provided for three extra days for response if service was accomplished by various methods listed in Rule 5. The rule, which used to provide extra time if service was by mail, rather than by hand delivery, has become somewhat anachronistic given the prevalence of e-filing and other methods of service. The change also removes an incentive to serve by hand delivery, which in some jurisdictions removed the three extra days for response that would accompany mail service.