Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Calculating Time Under the Federal Rules

Kiowa Anko calendar on buckskin, ca. 1871 - ca. 1907 (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. National Archives ARC identifier 523631.)

Prof. Catherine Struve (University of Pennsylvania) sent this message to a list for Civil Procedure professors. With her permission, I'm posting it here:

I write to invite you to participate in the public-comment process for the many rules of procedure that were published for comment last August.

As you know, proposed amendments to the Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Rules were published for comment in August, and comments on those proposals are due by February 15. One set of proposals concerns the method for computing time under all those sets of rules, and as the reporter to the subcommittee that coordinates the time-computation project I wanted to make sure to draw those proposals to your attention. A full explanation of the proposals can be found at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/newrules1.htm (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

In brief, the principal time-computation proposal is to adopt a “days-are-days” approach to computing all periods of time, including short time periods. Under the current rules, intermediate weekends and holidays are omitted when computing short time periods but included when computing longer periods. By contrast, under the new proposal, intermediate weekends and holidays are counted no matter the length of the specified period.

The project has been published for comment as proposed amendments to Appellate Rule 26(a), Bankruptcy Rule 9006(a), Civil Rule 6(a), and Criminal Rule 45(a). Also published for comment are proposed amendments to numerous deadlines set by the Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Rules; the goal of those amendments is to offset the effect of the change in time-counting approach by lengthening most short rule-based deadlines. In large measure, the rules-provided deadlines have been sufficiently lengthened to make the change to a days-are-days approach neutral to practitioners; moreover, in a few notable instances – such as the proposal to lengthen the current 10-day deadlines in Civil Rules 50, 52, and 59(b), (d) and (e) to 30 days – the deadlines proposals will give practitioners significantly more time than they now have. The new time-computation rules will govern a number of statutory deadlines that do not themselves provide a method for computing time, and so one of the project's current goals is to identify key statutory deadlines that the Standing Committee should recommend that Congress lengthen in order to offset the change in time-computation approach.

Your comments on any and all aspects of these proposals would be appreciated. Comments can be submitted electronically to Rules_Comments[at]ao.uscourts.gov .

Thanks in advance for your input!

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