Documents and Papers from a Court : Timing for Handling Documents

What is the purpose of Court rules?

Court rules tell you when certain acts must be performed. If you fail to perform a required act by a deadline set in the rule, the court may rule against you. This might mean the dismissal of your court case, a ruling in favor of the other party or an order limiting or barring you from presenting evidence or defending against a legal claim.

How do I count time under Court rules?
When counting the time you have to perform an act under the rules, you start with the act or event that requires a response. Start counting the response time beginning with the day following that triggering act or event. If the deadline day is on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the act may still be performed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

Example: If a party files a motion for summary judgment with the Court on March 1, that day is the triggering act or event. The response time starts to run starting on March 2. If the deadline for the response is March 15 but that is a Sunday, the response can be filed on Monday, March 16.

Also, a party who gets notice through the U.S. mail (either certified or regular mail) gets an extra 3 days to perform the act.

Example: The Plaintiff serves Interrogatories (discovery questions) upon the Defendant by U.S. mail. Under the rules, the Defendant has 28 days to send answers to the Plaintiff. But because the Interrogatories were served by U.S. mail, the Defendant gets an extra 3 days, giving the Defendant 31 days to submit the answers to the Plaintiff. If the 31 day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the Defendant has additional time to submit those answers.

Do civil rules extend statutes of limitations of Court-Ordered deadlines?
The deadline for performing an act under the rules doesn’t extend a statute of limitations. In other words, if a certain statute of limitations gives a person up to 2 years to file a lawsuit, the rules do not extend that right to file beyond 2 years, nor do they excuse a person who has failed to file until after the 2 years has passed. Also, if a Court sets a certain date for filing a motion and a deadline for responses to that motion, the rules don’t extend the deadline, regardless of how the court issues its notice about the deadlines.

Do I count weekends and holidays?
Weekends and holidays are counted differently if the act that must be done is required to be done within 7 days. When counting a 30-day time period, for example, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays in that time frame are included as part of the time period for acting. When the time to act is less than 7 days, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays do not count as part of the 7 days to act.

Example: The Defendant files a Motion for Summary Judgment. Local court rules require a response to be filed within 30 days. The 30 days begin to run on the day following the date that the Motion for Summary Judgment was filed with the court. Thus, if a Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on March 1, the first date to be counted in the 30-day period would be March 2. The 30 days would expire on March 31. If the 30 day (March 31) is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, then the response is due on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

Example: If the 30 day allowed to file a response with the court falls on Saturday, July 2, a day when the court is closed, the act doesn’t need to be performed on Saturday, July 2, or Sunday, July 3. The act or filing would usually be performed on the next day, a Monday. However, in this case, because the following Monday is July 4, a legal holiday, the response can still be allowed if it is filed on Tuesday, July 5.

Can I requesting an extension of time?
Sometimes it’s not possible to perform an act within the time period set by the rules or by a court order. If requested by a party, the court may grant an extension of the deadline to act. That request, called a motion for extension, must tell the court the reason for the extension and what time the party can act. The court doesn’t have to grant an extension, but it will generally do so, especially if the request is the first extension the party has asked for or if the party shows good reason for granting the extension.

What happens if you are late?

Sometimes, the deadline passes before you realize it or, for whatever reason, you don’t act before the deadline set by the court. You can ask the court’s permission to do what you should have done before the deadline by filing a motion for leave to file, out of rule. You should call it “out of rule” in the title of the motion.

For example, “Defendant’s Motion for Leave to File, Out of Rule, Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment” would explain the reason that you weren’t on time to do what you should have done. You should attach to your motion a copy of the item that you are asking the court’s permission to file. Continuing the previous example, in your Motion for Leave to File, you would explain why you didn’t respond by the deadline and you would attach a copy of the Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment. If the court gives you permission to file “out of rule,” you should immediately file (with the Clerk of Court) the original of the document that you asked for leave to file, serving the opposing party and counsel.

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This content was created by the Ohio State Bar Foundation's 2006 Fellows Class - Keys to the Courtroom Project.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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