The Importance of Reviewing Court Local Rules and Judges' Rules
he Court’s local rules and local patent rules are as important to civil litigants as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure themselves because they address particularities that are not addressed in the Federal Rules. Each United States District Court has its own set of local rules. These rules are generally available on a court’s website. One such example is that of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio available at: https://www.ohsd.uscourts.gov/sites/ohsd/files//Local%20Rules%20Effective%202020-08-01.pdf 202020-08-01.pdf. Some of the U.S. District Courts also have local patent rules setting forth rules and requirements in civil actions alleging patent infringement. As an example, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Local Patent Rules are available at: http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/?q=patent-rules. However, not all U.S. District Courts have established local patent rules. These local rules and any local patent rules vary from District Court to District Court. Requirements are set out for many items including how and when documents are to be filed and served in a legal action. This can range from the format of a party’s document such as citations, evidence, page limitations, signatures, paper size, spacing, font type, etc. to the timing of when a particular document must be served or filed. Thus, the importance of reviewing and understanding each court’s local rules and any established local patent rules.
The Federal Rules do not address when a responsive motion is due and therefore civil litigants must look to the local rules of the court where the action is filed. The responsive motion deadlines set out by the various U.S. District Courts differs from U.S. District Court to U.S. District Court. At the time this article is being written, the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio state:
[a]ny memorandum in opposition shall be filed within twenty-one days after the date of service of the motion.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Local Rules state:
[u]nless otherwise ordered by the Judicial Officer, each party opposing a motion must serve and file a memorandum in opposition within thirty (30) days after service of any dispositive motion and within fourteen (14) days after service of any non-dispositive motion.
The Local Rules of the Central District of California state:
[e]ach opposing party shall, not later than ten (10) days after service of the motion in the instance of a new trial motion and not later than twenty-one (21) days before the date designated for the hearing of the motion in all other instances, serve upon all other parties and file with the Clerk either (a) the evidence upon which the opposing party will rely in opposition to the motion and a brief but complete memorandum which shall contain a statement of all the reasons in opposition thereto….
Whereas the Eastern District of Texas Local Civil Rules state:
[a] party opposing a motion has fourteen days (twenty-one days for summary judgment motions) from the date the motion was served in which to file a response and any supporting documents….
This is just one, but very important, example of the vast differences in a few of the U.S. District Courts’ local rules.
It is also important for civil litigants to review the Court’s webpages as to the judge who is assigned to a particular civil action to determine if a judge may have any standing orders, rules or preferences. A review of a judge’s webpage may show that an assigned judge has set forth separate requirements as to deadlines, court conferences, motion practice, exhibits, jury instructions, trials, etc. One example of a difference between the local rule and a judge’s standing order is contained within a local rule for a particular U.S. District Court. This local rule states:
The Court prefers that that memoranda in support of or in opposition to any motion or application to the Court not exceed twenty pages. In all cases in which memoranda exceed twenty pages, counsel shall include a combined table of contents and a succinct, clear, and accurate summary, not to exceed five pages, indicating the main sections of the memorandum and the principal arguments and citations to primary authority made in each section, as well as the pages on which each section and any sub-sections may be found. A Judge may impose page limitations in any action by standing order.
As this local rule states, “a judge may impose page limitations in any action by standing order.” When comparing this local rule to the differing judges’ standing orders in this particular U.S. District Court, a page limitation of a brief or memorandum filed in a legal action may not exceed 20 pages without leave of Court or leave of Court to file a brief in excess of 20 pages may not be required, depending on a particular judge’s standing order. This example reflects the importance of checking an assigned judge’s standing orders, rules and preferences.
The Rules of Civil procedures as well as local rules are based upon due process considerations of the United States Constitution. As seen from the examples above, local rules and judges standing orders fill in important gaps missing from the Civil Rules. It is therefore important that litigants familiarize themselves with a Court’s local rules as cases begin.
This article is for general information purposes to permit you to learn more about our firm and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.