Time Calculation Changes to FRCP–Memorandum to USDC Chief Judges

Following is an excerpt of a Memorandum from Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal, Chair, Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Chief Judges, United States Courts regarding the upcoming changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with respect to deadlines and timing.  For updated information regarding timing and other requirement for drafting, filing and serving civil litigation documents, check you SmartRules Guides for the United States District Courts. 

“On March 26, 2009, the Supreme Court approved amendments to Appellate Rule 26, Bankruptcy Rule 9006, Civil Rule 6, and Criminal Rule 45. The changes are the result of a major project to make all the federal rules on calculating time periods simpler, clearer, and consistent. The amendments have been sent to Congress and are due to take effect on December 1, 2009.  The current rules exclude intermediate weekends and holidays for some short time periods, resulting in inconsistency and unnecessary complication. The amended rules are consistent and simple: count intermediate weekends and holidays for all time periods. All the deadlines in the Federal Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Rules were reviewed and most short periods extended to offset the shift in the time-computation rules and to ensure that each period is reasonable. The amended rules will affect some local rules and standing orders, especially those that set short deadlines. To maintain consistency with the national rules and to avoid confusion, we ask courts to review their local rules and standing orders and make
necessary adjustments. It is important that the adjustments take effect on December 1, the same date as the national rule changes. . .

The simple “days are days” approach to computing deadlines has the effect of shortening current periods less than 11 days in appellate, civil, and criminal proceedings and 8 days in bankruptcy proceedings. Virtually all short periods in the federal rules were lengthened to offset the change in the computation method – 5-day periods became 7-day periods and 10-day periods became 14-day periods – in effect maintaining the status quo. Periods shorter than 30
days were revised to be multiples of 7 days, to reduce the likelihood of ending on weekends. . . .

Additionally, time periods in a few rules were extended because they were too short and impractical. In total, 91 rules were changed. Congress passed legislation on April 27 adjusting time periods in 28 statutes that are similarly affected by the federal rules time-computation amendments (H.R. 1626). The legislation is awaiting the President’s signature. Both the federal rules amendments and the legislation will take effect on December 1, 2009. Amendments to local rules and standing orders are necessary because the federal rules for calculating time periods also apply to them. In most cases, only slight adjustments will be needed. A 10-day period that was effectively 14 days (because two weekends were excluded) should be lengthened to 14 days; a 5-day period that was effectively 7 days (because one weekend was excluded) should be lengthened to 7 days. Ideally, periods of less than 30 days should be revised to be a multiple of 7 days. Using terms such as “business days” or “court days” to describe how to compute a time period should be revised to use “days.” Local
provisions that are designed to fit with a period stated in the federal rules should be adjusted consistent with the federal rule changes. These conforming amendments to the local rules and standing orders should take effect on December 1, 2009, consistent with the effective date of the federal rules amendments.
Other changes to the federal time-computation rules 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 time-computation rules amendments are at www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies. Separate power point presentations, which you may find helpful, explaining the amended rules and their operation in appellate, bankruptcy, and district court proceedings are at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/presentations.html. “

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