The Third Circuit Moves Its Filing Deadline From Midnight to 5 PM

As discussed here, the Third Circuit proposed earlier this year to amend its Local Appellate Rules to provide that papers received by the Clerk’s office after 5 PM Eastern time on a given day would be deemed filed on the following day. After receiving comments in support of and against the proposed amendments, the Third Circuit has announced that the amendments will become effective on July 1, 2023. The public notice of that action, which contains the details, can be found here.

Among other things, there will be a “grace period” lasting until December 31, 2023 “for papers mistakenly filed after 5:00 p.m. E.T.” As a result of comments received, the original proposed amendment has been altered to “except[ ] filings initiating cases in the Court, like petitions for review.”

The Third Circuit offered reasons for adopting the amendments, which included:

Permitting the Court’s Helpdesk personnel to assist electronic filers with technical and other issues when needed during regular business hours and permitting other Clerk’s Office personnel to extend current deadlines (the average non-extended filing period is thirty days) in response to a party’s motion or for up to fourteen days by telephone, during regular business hours. In addition, the amendments permit judges to read and consider filings at an earlier hour.

Insofar as over half of the Court’s litigants are pro se, many of whom cannot or will not use the Court’s CM/ECF system (and attorneys must use the system), the rule largely equalizes the filing deadlines for pro se litigants and attorneys.

Consistent with the collegiality and fairness the Court encourages, the rule ends the practice by some of unnecessary late-night filings intended to deprive opponents from hours that could be used to consider and formulate responses to such filings. Further, the rule obviates the need by opposing counsel to check whether opposing papers were filed throughout the night. About one-quarter of the Court’s filings are currently received after business hours.

Alleviating confusion by equalizing the filing deadlines for electronically filed and non-electronically filed documents in most cases

[Disclosure: In addition to endorsing this proposal on this blog, at the link above, I submitted a comment to the Third Circuit in support of the proposed amendments.]