Reuters reports that the Third Circuit changed its local rules to require most briefs and court documents to be filed by 5:00 pm on the day they are due. The story explains that the proposal “comes after the court’s chief judge Michael Chagares pushed for years for the whole judiciary to rollback deadlines to improve attorneys’ work-life balance.”
And then Reuters drops this deadpan gem:
The court adopted the new rule despite opposition from bar associations and other lawyer groups that said an earlier filing deadline could exacerbate pressure on lawyers and sow confusion among attorneys from other parts of the country who do not often practice in the court.
So . . .CA3 adopted a rule to improve attorneys’ work-life balance over the objections of those attorneys? That’s funny. At this point, I feel compelled to make a confession: I am an appellate attorney. I like my life. I am in favor of things improve my work-life balance!
It is not immediately clear to me that changing a midnight deadline to a 5:00 pm deadline would do much for my quality of life? After all, federal appellate courts don’t exactly spring these deadlines on you. You get weeks and weeks to file stuff under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure! And you can get extensions! So shortening the 40-day deadline for an appellant’s principal brief by seven hours isn’t going to make me sleep better at night. It’s actually not going to have any effect at all, because I don’t wait until the last seven hours to file case-dispositive documents, because I am not a lunatic. This points up another fun feature of the FRAP: You are allowed to file things early.
But even if tweaking a deadline by 00.73% could somehow marginally improve a lawyer’s quality of life, wouldn’t you, like, extend thedeadline if you wanted to improve quality of life?
All of this made me quite curious. So I pulled CA3’s public notice of the amendment. Here are the reasons listed as “supporting the amendments”:
- permitting the Court’s Helpdesk personnel to assist electronic filers with technical and other issues when needed during regular business hours and permitting other Clerk’s Office personnel to extend current deadlines (the average non-extended filing period is thirty days) in response to a party’s motion or for up to fourteen days by telephone, during regular business hours. In addition, the amendments permit judges to read and consider filings at an earlier hour.
- insofar as over half of the Court’s litigants are pro se, many of whom cannot or will not use the Court’s CM/ECF system (and attorneys must use the system), the rule largely equalizes the filing deadlines for pro se litigants and attorneys.
- consistent with the collegiality and fairness the Court encourages, the rule ends the practice by some of unnecessary late-night filings intended to deprive opponents from hours that could be used to consider and formulate responses to such filings. Further, the rule obviates the need by opposing counsel to check whether opposing papers were filed throughout the night. About one-quarter of the Court’s filings are currently received after business hours.
- alleviating confusion by equalizing the filing deadlines for electronically filed and non-electronically filed documents in most cases.
First, maybe I missed the reference to quality of life?
Second, the Helpdesk. Figures.
Third, “the amendments permit judges to read and consider filings at an earlier hour”? I call shenanigans.
Fourth, “the rule obviates the need by opposing counsel to check whether opposing papers were filed throughout the night”? I promise you that I am not checking whether opposing papers were filed throughout the night.
Fifth, “the rule ends the practice by some of unnecessary late-night filings intended to deprive opponents from hours that could be used to consider and formulate responses to such filings.” This is a shame. The unnecessary late-night filers are assholes. If they want to immiserate themselves to try to get an advantage in litigation that doesn’t actually exist, then by all means we should indulge them.