REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE
COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES AND MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES:
May 18, 2017
[These notes relate to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amendments that were approved to go into effect on December 1, 2018]
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Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Rules Recommended for Approval and Transmission
The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules submitted proposed amendments to Civil Rules 5, 23, 62, and 65.1, with a recommendation that they be approved and transmitted to the Judicial Conference. The proposed amendments were circulated to the bench, bar, and public for comment in August 2016.
Rule 5. (Serving and Filing Pleadings and Other Papers)
The proposed amendments to Civil Rule 5 are part of the inter-advisory committee project to develop rules for electronic filing and service.
Proposed amendments to Rule 5(b)(2)(E) address electronic service. The present rule allows electronic service only if the person to be served has consented in writing. The proposal deletes the requirement of consent when service is made on a registered user through the court’s electronic filing system. Written consent is still required when service is made by electronic means outside the court’s system (e.g., discovery materials).
Proposed amendments to Rule 5(d) address electronic filing. Present Rule 5(d)(3) permits papers to be filed, signed, or verified by electronic means if permitted by local rule; a local rule may require electronic filing only if reasonable exceptions are allowed. In practice, most courts require registered users to file electronically. Proposed Rule 5(d)(3)(A) recognizes this reality by establishing a uniform national rule that makes electronic filing mandatory for parties represented by counsel, except when non-electronic filing is allowed or required by local rule, or for good cause.
Proposed Rule 5(d)(3)(B) addresses filings by pro se parties. Under the proposal, courts would retain the discretion to permit electronic filing by pro se parties through court order or local rule. Any court order or local rule requiring electronic filing for pro se parties must allow reasonable exceptions. While the advisory committee recognizes that some pro se parties are fully capable of electronic filing, the idea of requiring a pro se party to electronically file raised concerns that such a requirement could effectively deny access to persons not equipped to do so.
Proposed Rule 5(d)(3)(C) establishes a uniform national signature provision. Commentators found ambiguity in the published language regarding whether the rule would require that the attorney’s username and password appear on the filing. In response, the advisory committee, in consultation with the other advisory committees, made revisions to increase the clarity of this amendment.
Finally, the proposal includes a provision addressing proof of service. The current rule requires a certificate of service but does not specify a particular form. The published version of the rule provided that a notice of electronic filing generated by the court’s CM/ECF system constitutes a certificate of service. Following the public comment period, the advisory committee revised the proposal to provide that no certificate of service is required when a paper is served by filing it with the court’s system. The proposal also addresses whether a certificate of service is required for a paper served by means other than the court’s electronic filing system: if the paper is filed, a certificate of service must be filed with it or within a reasonable time after service, and if the paper is not filed, a certificate of service is not required to be filed unless required by local rule or court order.
Rule 23. (Class Actions)
The proposed amendments to Rule 23 are the result of more than five years of study and consideration by the advisory committee, through its Rule 23 subcommittee. As previously reported, the decision to take up this effort was prompted by several developments that seemed to warrant reexamination of Rule 23, namely: (1) the passage of time since the 2003 amendments to Rule 23 went into effect; (2) the development of a body of case law on class action practice; and (3) recurrent interest in Congress, including the 2005 adoption of the Class Action Fairness Act. In developing the proposed amendments to Rule 23, the subcommittee attended nearly two dozen meetings and bar conferences with diverse memberships and attendees. In addition, in September 2015, the subcommittee held a mini-conference to gather additional input from a variety of stakeholders on potential rule amendments.
After extensive consideration and study, the subcommittee narrowed the list of issues to be addressed in proposed rule amendments. The proposed amendments published in August 2016 addressed the following seven issues:
1. Requiring earlier provision of information to the court as to whether the court should send notice to the class of a proposed settlement (known as “frontloading”);
2. Making clear that a decision to send notice of a proposed settlement to the class under Rule 23(e)(1) is not appealable under Rule 23(f);
3. Making clear in Rule 23(c)(2)(B) that the Rule 23(e)(1) notice triggers the opt-out period in Rule 23(b)(3) class actions;
4. Updating Rule 23(c)(2) regarding individual notice in Rule 23(b)(3) class actions;
5. Addressing issues raised by “bad faith” class action objectors;
6. Refining standards for approval of proposed class action settlements under Rule 23(e)(2); and
7. A proposal by the Department of Justice to include in Rule 23(f) a 45–day period in which to seek permission for an interlocutory appeal when the United States is a party.
The majority of the comments received during the public comment period for all the proposed Civil Rules amendments—both written and in the form of testimony at three public hearings—addressed the Rule 23 proposals. The advisory committee received some comments urging it to reconsider topics it had determined not to pursue, as well as comments urging it to consider additional topics not previously considered. As to those topics that were included in the proposals published for public comment, most comments addressed the modernization of notice methods and the handling of class member objections to proposed class action settlements.
The subcommittee and advisory committee carefully considered all of the comments received. Minor changes were made to the proposed rule language, and revisions to the committee note were aimed at increasing clarity and succinctness.
Rule 62. (Stay and Proceedings to Enforce a Judgment) and 65.1 (Proceedings Against a Surety)
The proposed amendments to Rule 62 and Rule 65.1 are the product of a joint subcommittee with the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules. The advisory committee received three comments on the proposed amendments, each of which was supportive.
The proposed amendments to Rule 62 make three changes. First, the period of the automatic stay is extended to 30 days. This change would eliminate a gap in the current rule between automatic stays under subsection (a) and the authority to order a stay pending disposition of a post-judgment motion under subsection (b). Before the Time Computation Project, Civil Rules 50, 52, and 59 set the time for motions at 10 days after entry of judgment. Rule 62(b) recognized authority to issue a stay pending disposition of a motion under Rules 50, 52, or 59, or 60. The Time Computation Project reset at 28 days the time for motions under Rules 50, 52, or 59. It also reset the expiration of the automatic stay in Rule 62(a) at 14 days after entry of judgment. An unintentional result was that the automatic stay expired halfway through the time allowed to make a post-judgment motion. Rule 62(b), however, continued to authorize a stay “pending disposition of any of” these motions. The proposed amendment to Rule 62(a) addresses this gap by extending the time of an automatic stay to 30 days. The proposal further provides that the automatic stay takes effect “unless the court orders otherwise.”
Second, the proposed amendments make clear that a judgment debtor can secure a stay by posting continuing security, whether as a bond or by other means, that will last from termination of the automatic stay through final disposition on appeal. The former provision for securing a stay on posting a supersedeas bond is retained, without the word “supersedeas.” The right to obtain a stay on providing a bond or other security is maintained with changes that allow the security to be provided before an appeal is taken and that allow any party, not just an appellant, to obtain the stay.
Third, subdivisions (a) through (d) are rearranged, carrying forward with only a minor change the provisions for staying judgments in an action for an injunction or a receivership, or directing an accounting in an action for patent infringement.
The proposed amendment to Rule 65.1 is intended to reflect the expansion of Rule 62 to include forms of security other than a bond. Additional changes were made following the public comment period in order to conform Rule 65.1 to the proposed amendments to Appellate Rule 8(b). As discussed above, the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules has proposed amendments to the Appellate Rules to conform those rules with the amendments to Civil Rule 62, including amendments to Appellate Rule 8(b). Appellate Rule 8(b) and Civil Rule 65.1 parallel one another. The proposed amendments to Rule 65.1 imitate those to Appellate Rule 8(b), namely, removing all references to “bond,” “undertaking,” and “surety,” and substituting the words “security” and “security provider.”
The Standing Committee voted unanimously to support the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules.
Recommendation: That the Judicial Conference approve the proposed amendments to Civil Rules 5, 23, 62, and 65.1 and transmit them to the Supreme Court for consideration with a recommendation that they be adopted by the Court and transmitted to Congress in accordance with the law.
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David G. CampbellChairJesse M. FurmanGregory G. GarreDaniel C. GirardSusan P. GraberFrank M. HullPeter D. KeislerWilliam K. KelleyRod J. RosensteinAmy J. St. EveLarry D. ThompsonRichard C. WesleyJack Zouhary