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Proposed Change to Federal Appellate Rules Would Provide Reply-Brief Relief

I’m old enough to remember the good ol’ days, specifically, 2016, when we had 17 days to file a reply brief in a federal appeal.  Sometimes, you would even get lucky and have the 17th day fall on a weekend, giving you as many as 18 or even 19 days to file that scathing reply.

But then, in honor of a long tradition of counting by sevens that traces its roots through American football to the ancient Babylonians and even Genesis (not the Phil Collins version), the federal rulemakers scrapped the three-day mail rule so that most time periods counted in days would be divisible by 7.  The reasoning had something to do with the debatable notion that it does not take three days for an email to travel to your inbox.

Fine, fine, but we practitioners needed those extra days to get the reply just right.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you.  It looks like you are getting your days back–and more!

Chief Justice Roberts sent a letter to Congress last week adopting revisions to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that would extend the reply brief period from 14 days to 21 days, on the theory that 21 is ostensibly also divisible by 7.  The new rules will be effective December 1, 2018.

Now, Congress has the power to reject these amendments, but I would wager $7 that they won’t.

–Matt Leerberg

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