Published on: Wednesday, January 18, 2023

A federal appeals court on Tuesday proposed putting a stop to lawyers and paralegals working up until midnight to complete briefs and other court documents due that day by setting the deadline to electronically file them at 5 p.m. (article available here).

The proposed rule from the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' follows years of the court's Chief Judge Michael Chagares pushing for the judiciary as a whole to consider rolling back deadlines to improve attorneys' work-life balance.

Under a proposal issued for public comment, electronically filed documents must, like hard copy ones filed with the clerk's office, be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern Time, otherwise they will be treated as if the were filed the next day.

Public comment is due by Feb. 18. On Twitter, reaction was mixed, with some lawyers complaining it was unnecessary and could create confusion by adopting an earlier deadline in one circuit than the rest of the federal appellate courts.

In a study prompted by his proposal, the Federal Judicial Center, the judiciary's research arm, found that in 2018, about one in 10 docket entries in federal appellate and district courts occurred after 5 p.m. and one in 20 were after 6 p.m.

Only three federal district courts nationally have filing deadlines other than midnight, according to the Federal Judicial Center: the Eastern District of Arkansas, the District of Delaware and the District of Massachusetts.