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Federal Bar Update: Dec. 1 rule changes now in effect

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Federal Bar UpdateAs previewed in prior columns, effective Dec. 1 various amendments took effect to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (as well as appellate, criminal, and evidence rules). Rule 26 was amended to apply work-product protection to the discovery of draft expert reports. Rule 56 amendments are significant but do not change summary judgment standards or burdens.

When federal rules are amended, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2074, the amended “rule shall take effect no earlier than December 1 of the year in which such rule is so transmitted unless otherwise provided by law. The Supreme Court may fix the extent such rule shall apply to proceedings then pending, except that the Supreme Court shall not require the application of such rule to further proceedings then pending to the extent that, in the opinion of the court in which such proceedings are pending, the application of such rule in such proceedings would not be feasible or would work injustice, in which event the former rule applies.”

As the Supreme Court has done in prior years, with these amendments the court stated in its amendment order that the “foregoing amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure shall take effect on December 1, 2010, and shall govern all proceedings thereafter commenced and, insofar as just and practicable, all proceedings then pending.”

Thus, the new rules apply to all new cases from Dec. 1 forward and to all pre-existing cases to the extent “just and practicable.” Courts typically look to “undue prejudice” in applying this standard. With respect to the current amendments in Rules 26 and 56, it is expected that the amendments will apply to pending cases.

Proper ecf Filing – In Green Mountain Financial Fund v. LaCroix, No. 1:09-CV-1216-SEB-TAB (Nov. 22, 2010), plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment along with 16 supporting exhibits. The court struck the filing with leave to re-file for failure to comply with Local Rule 5.6 and paragraph 13 of the CM/ECF Policy and Procedure Manual, which states, “When uploading attachments during the electronic filing process … a brief description must be entered for each individual PDF file. The description must include not only the exhibit number or letter, but also a brief description of the document itself.”

In Green Mountain, plaintiff had labeled the supporting exhibits “A,” “B,” “C,” etc., but did not describe the exhibits. The court noted, “For example, Exhibit A might have been described as ‘Legal Description: Tract 1.’ Exhibit B might have been described as ‘Note, July 10, 2007.’” The court added, “When voluminous exhibits are not properly described, it is difficult and burdensome for the Court and other parties to this lawsuit to locate the exhibits electronically.” Accordingly, the court struck the filing with leave to re-file seven days later and tolled the responding parties’ response brief until such re-filing. •

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John Maley (jmaley@btlaw.com) is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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