A Crucial Learning Point from a Change in Third Circuit Local Rules
By Melinda S. Kollross
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has just changed its local rules for filing, and the change is pretty significant:
The Third Circuit has adopted a new rule L.A.R. 26.1 that requires filings be submitted by 5 p.m. E.T. on the due date, rather than any time before midnight that day, effective July 1, 2023. The new local rule sets a grace period of until December 31, 2023, for papers mistakenly filed after 5:00 p.m. E.T. The Third Circuit Clerk’s office closes at 5 p.m., so the new rule creates a uniform 5:00 p.m. E.T. deadline for filings (electronic and otherwise).
Although the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure sets the deadline for electronic filings in a court of appeals to be midnight in the court’s time zone on its due date, that rule is contingent upon there being no different time set by statute, local rule or order. Fed. R. App. P. 26(a)(4)(B). The Third Circuit’s local rule L.A.R. 26.1 “trumps” and takes precedence over the general filing deadline rule contained in Fed. R. App. P. 26(a)(4)(B).
There is a crucial learning point to note by virtue of the action taken by the Third Circuit in changing its local filing rule.
It is imperative in everyone’s practice to always keep up on any changes to local rules. In fact regardless of where you are practicing for a particular case, I recommend reviewing each time not only the latest state or federal rules of general applicability and practice comments, but the latest local rules, any particular rules or requirements of the judge you are appearing before, and any “unwritten” rules—rules based upon the customary practice in that court. Doing so will help avoid traps for the unwary.