Recent Proposed State/Federal Rules Changes as of September 2016

Maine’s federal district court is seeking comments to several proposed amendments to the local rules. The substance and effect of the proposed amendments are summarized below.

Current Local Rule 7(f) provides no automatic right to oral argument on a motion, and gives the Court complete discretion over oral argument. It has discretion to schedule oral argument when neither party has requested it, or deny argument to a requesting party. The proposed amendment continues to vest the same level of discretion in the Court, except when federal rule or statute requires otherwise.

Current Local Rule 16.2(e) requires that a party wishing to amend the Court’s proposed scheduling order must file a proposed discovery plan and must request a conference with the Court. The Court then has discretion to schedule the conference or not. The proposed amendment gives the attorney more choice in how she requests changes to the scheduling order. The attorney may file a proposed discovery plan with a detailed explanation for each change requested, or simply request a conference with the Court, or both.

Current Local Rule 54.3, which contains requirements for filing a bill of costs, would be amended so that it no longer applies when the costs are part of an application for statutorily permitted attorney’s fees under Local Rule 54.2.

Local Rule 83.1 would be amended to require the Court’s permission for an attorney admitted pro hac vice to appear in any proceeding without local counsel. The amendment would direct the Court to freely excuse local counsel from appearing. The current Local Rule 83.1 allowed pro hac vice attorneys to appear in proceedings without local counsel as the default, unless the Court in its discretion required local counsel to appear. The amendment may not signal a trend towards requiring local counsel to appear in more proceedings; it appears to be simply a procedural mechanism to ensure the issue is before the Court before the actual proceeding occurs.