Recent Proposed State/Federal Rules Changes as of May 2017

Written by

Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 77(c) has been changed effective May 30, 2017. The change is minor, but reflects the move towards unifying the civil and criminal courts. Previously, chiefs of the respective trial courts set hours for the court clerks in each branch. Now, the Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sets all the clerks’ hours, by administrative order.

There are also a few changes proposed for the Maine federal district court local rules.

Local Rule 83.1 on attorney admission will be changed to prevent admission to federal district court if an attorney is only conditionally admitted in Maine.

Local Rule 83.3 on attorney discipline has been reorganized, with a few minor changes. Automatic and mandatory suspension by the court upon an attorney’s conviction of a crime is now effective as soon as the court receives a copy of the attorney’s conviction, rather than after notice to the attorney. The attorney may receive notice after the suspension goes into effect (the suspension is temporary until final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding, for those wondering about the due process questions raised by suspension without notice).

The category of crimes resulting in this automatic suspension has been broadened to include any crime implicating honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

The automatic, mandatory suspension of attorneys who have been administratively suspended by the Maine Board of Bar Overseers, increases from 7 to 14 days.

The new rule makes explicit that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply in attorney disciplinary proceedings, nor the Federal Rules of Evidence, except that common law privileges and attorney-client privilege are recognized.

Comments on the proposed changes to the Maine federal district court local rules may be submitted by July 13 to Christa K. Berry, Clerk at localrules@med.uscourts.gov.