Proposed Amendments to Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure

The Appellate Rules Committee, of which I am currently chair, has been busy considering various amendments to the rules. The Committee has recommended certain changes, and the Supreme Judicial Court has now proposed amendments to the rules and invited public comment.

The biggest change is one that will hopefully be a significant benefit to attorneys appearing before the Law Court: the proposed rules would require most documents to be filed and served electronically.  With the advent of a uniform electronic filing system across Maine courts still an elusive goal, the proposed rules would allow for email filing with the clerk’s office. Filing would be deemed effective the date the clerk receives the email, even if filed after business hours. Paper copies of briefs, appendices, and certain other documents would still be required, but up to 7 days after the clerk of the Law Court has indicated that the electronically filed brief has been accepted by the Court.

The proposed rules accomplish a few other noteworthy changes. First, before filing a motion, the parties will be required to confer so that the moving party can disclose the opposing party’s position. Second, the rules would specify procedures for motions that request emergency or expedited action by the Court. Third, the changes would enlarge the time for responses to motions to 14 days from the current 7.

Interested parties should weigh in with comments, which are due by 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 11. Hopefully both the bench and the bar will benefit from these changes.

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