Nalty v. Nalty Tree Farm

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
Citation654 F. Supp. 1315
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 83-0783-11.
PartiesFrank Mooney NALTY, Jr., et al., Plaintiffs, v. NALTY TREE FARM, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date10 March 1987

Champ Lyons, Jr., and Larry U. Sims, Mobile, Ala., for plaintiffs.

Phillip A. Wittmann, Paul L. Zimmering, Calvin P. Brasseaux, New Orleans, La., for defendants.


HAND, Chief Judge.

Today the Court is called upon to decide whether objections to a Recommendation of the Magistrate have been timely filed. Because this procedural question arises with regularity, the Court will address it in some detail.

The Magistrate's Recommendation in question was entered on December 30, 1986. Because of the New Year's holiday, however, it was not mailed to the parties by the Clerk until Monday, January 5, 1987. The defendants' objections to the recommendation were filed with the Clerk on Thursday, January 22, 1987. Plaintiffs have argued that the objections to the recommendation were not timely filed and should not be considered in reviewing the recommendation.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party has ten days after being served with a recommendation of a magistrate in which to file any objections to the recommendation. Rule 6(a) provides that intermediate weekends and legal holidays shall not be counted when the prescribed time period is less than eleven days.1 Rule 6(e) also adds three days to a response period whenever the responding party is being served by mail.2

Plaintiffs argue that the three additional days provided by Rule 6(e) should be added to the ten day response period first, thereby eliminating the application of the less-than-eleven-days provision of Rule 6(a). In other words, plaintiffs argue that objections to a magistrate's recommendation must be filed within thirteen days of the service of the recommendation, without excluding the intervening weekends and holidays. Defendants, on the other hand, argue that the ten day period for responding to the recommendation should be computed excluding intervening weekends and holidays, after which three days should be added pursuant to Rule 6(e). For the following reasons, the Court agrees with the defendants.

Prior to its amendment in 1985, Rule 6(a) provided that intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays would be excluded in computing time periods only when the time period was less than seven days. See 4 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1161 (1969). Thus, under the earlier form of the Rule, objections to magistrates' recommendations were due within thirteen days of the service of the recommendations. The thirteen day period was composed of the ten day period prescribed by Rule 72(b) and the three extra days allowed by Rule 6(c) because the recommendations were served by mail.3 See 7 J. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 72.049. — 2 (2d ed. 1986); 12 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3076.8 (Supp.1986).

The 1985 amendment to Rule 6(a) extended the exclusion of intermediate weekends and holidays to the computation of time periods of less than eleven days. The Advisory Committee's comments, which explain the purpose of the amendment, read as follows:

The Rule also is amended to extend the exclusion of intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays to the computation of time periods less than 11 days. Under the current version of the Rule, parties bringing motions under rules with 10-day periods could have as few as 5 working days to prepare their motions. This hardship would be especially acute in the case of Rules 50(b) and (c)(2), 52(b), and 59(b), (d), and (e), which may not be enlarged at the discretion of the court. See Rule 6(b). If the exclusion of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays will operate to cause excessive delay in urgent cases, the delay can be obviated by applying to the court to shorten the time. See Rule 6(b).

Fed.R.Civ.P. 6 advisory committee note (1985 amendment).

It is clear from the advisory committee's comments that the 1985 amendment was intended to extend the response time allowed under various rules prescribing ten day time limits. By authorizing the exclusion of intermediate weekends and holidays, the amendment assures that at least four additional days (from two intervening weekends) will be added to the time period, along with any additional legal holidays that might fall within the period. Since the time period for responding to magistrates' recommendations is ten days, the new less-than-eleven-day rule should be applied, resulting in at least a seventeen day response period. This period includes the ten days allowed by Rule 72(b), the four days composed of the uncounted intermediate weekends, and the three days allowed for mailing by Rule 6(e). The net result is at least a four day extension of the time period.

Plaintiffs' proposed application of the relevant provisions would undermine the purpose of the 1985 amendment. If the three mailing days provided by Rule 6(e) were added up front to the ten day response period of Rule 72(b) to establish a time period of thirteen days, the less-than-eleven-day provision would not be applied and intervening weekends and holidays would not be excluded. The resulting thirteen day response period would be identical to the thirteen day period that existed prior to the 1985 amendment. Such a result cannot be consistent with the obvious intentions of the advisory committee.

The Court is cognizant of the fact that Professors Wright and Miller have recommended that the three mailing days under Rule 6(e) be added to the original time period first to establish single period for computation purposes. The professors even suggested that that procedure should be followed before deciding whether to apply the former less-than-seven-day provision of Rule 6(a). 4 C. Wright and A. Miller, supra, § 1171. The Court concludes, however, that their commentary should not control the application of the less-than-eleven-day rule and Rule 6(e) in these circumstances. Their commentary was written long before the 1985 amendment to Rule 6(a) and did not consider the application of these rules in the context of the purpose and intended result of the amendment. For the same reason, pre-1985 caselaw is also unpersuasive. See Thompson v. Rose, 505 F.Supp. 183 (W.D. Tenn.1981); Webb v. Califano, 468 F.Supp. 825 (E.D.Cal.1979).

Further support for the Court's chosen construction of these rules can be found by considering the purpose of Rule 6(d). By adding three additional days to the response period of a party required to act following the receipt of a paper served by mail, Rule 6(e) amounts to a legislative presumption that the party is not in receipt of the paper and lacks notice for three days following the mailing of the paper. His response period should be computed, as it otherwise would be, from the point of presumed receipt. Thus, the length of the party's ten day response period...

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    ...6(e) provides for an additional three days where service is by mail, as is the case here. See, e.g., Nalty v. Nalty Tree Farm, 654 F.Supp. 1315, 1317-18 (S.D.Ala.1987) (applying above A simple glance at a December 1992 calendar confirms that the Fund had until December 30, 1992 to file obje......
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    ...situation.3 After examining the decisions of other courts, the Court finds persuasive the logic of the court in Nalty v. Nalty Tree Farm, 654 F.Supp. 1315 (S.D.Ala. 1987). In that case, Judge Hand reasoned that failure to apply the Rule 6(a) exclusion to the 10-day time period (by adding th......
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