Federal Bar Update: End-of-year tweaks to federal court rules

December 17, 2014

FedBarMaley-sigRecall that amendments to various federal rules always take effect Dec. 1, but this year there are only modest changes to Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 6 and a technical amendment to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 77.

In the 7th Circuit, modest amendments took effect Dec. 1 to Circuit Rules 3, 10, 11, 22, 26.1, 28, 34, 45 and 46.

Meanwhile, local rule changes take effect Jan. 1 in the Southern District of Indiana. Local Rule 5-11 is drastically rewritten to address sealed filings and redactions. All federal practitioners should study this and have their paralegals and staff review it as well (See the amendment on the court’s website.).

Also, Local Rule 56-1(k) addressing summary judgment motions against unrepresented parties is amended modestly, and the court has revised the notice required by Appendix A to the local rules for summary judgment motions filed against unrepresented parties.

Recall that the Northern District amended Local Rule 83-6.11 in August of this year, addressing reinstatement to the court’s bar. No other Northern District amendments are on the horizon.

In December 2015, we are likely to see significant amendments to the Federal Rules. A package of proposed amendments to the discovery rules was transmitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in September for consideration. Future columns in 2015 will address these once approved by the court and if not rejected by Congress.

7th Circuit Practitioner’s Handbook

This key resource for 7th Circuit appeals has been updated this year. Available on the 7th Circuit’s website, it is a critical guide for even the most experienced appellate practitioners.

7th Circuit briefs – statement of facts forbidden

Effective Dec. 1, Circuit Rule 28(c) has been deleted. It formerly provided: “Circuit Rule 28(c) Statement of the Facts. The statement of facts required by Fed. R. App. P. 28(a)(7) shall be a fair summary without argument or comment. No fact shall be stated in this part of the brief unless it is supported by a reference to the page or pages of the record or the appendix where that fact appears.”

So practitioners might wonder if the court no longer wants facts in the briefs. The court does, but as part of FRAP 28(a)(6)’s “concise statement of the case; setting out the facts relevant to the issues submitted for review, describing the relevant procedural history, and identifying the rulings presented for review, with appropriate references to the record.”

Indeed, even prior to the Circuit rule amendment, the court has been rejecting briefs that have a section entitled “Statement of the Facts” as non-compliant with the rules. A call to the clerk’s office on such occasions (after temporary panic upon receipt of the deficiency notice) results in learning from their helpful staff that “this is routine” and that the “Statement of Facts” heading simply needs to be deleted with the “Facts” encompassed within what we all formerly knew to be the brief statement of the case.

This actually stems from the 2013 amendment to FRAP 28(a)(7) that eliminated a required “Statement of Facts” as a separate section, and put the facts into the Statement of Case. This is more in line with U.S. Supreme Court practice.•


John Maley – jmaley@btlaw.com – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals.


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