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Time Is On (Your) Side: A Proposed Change to Maryland Appellate Rule 8-412(c)

As the appellant in the Maryland appellate courts, when should you file your brief? Currently, it’s within 40 days after the clerk notifies you that the court has filed the record. Sounds easy enough, except the current Maryland Rules don’t actually require the clerk to send such a notice. In fixing that little problem, however, the Rules Committee is considering working in a smidge more time for practitioners to get their briefs in.

Current practice of the appellate court clerks is to, after the record has been filed, issue notice to the parties with a date before which the appellant should file the brief. Proposed changes to Md. Rule 8-412(c) would codify this custom, providing that, “Upon receipt and docketing of the record by the Clerk of the appellate court, the Clerk shall send a notice to the parties stating (1) the date the record was received and docketed and (2) the date by which an appellant other than a cross-appellant shall file a brief conforming with 8-503.” However, while the current version of Rule 8-503 requires the appellant to file its brief “[w]ithin 40 days after the clerk sends notice of the filing of the record,” the tweak to Rule 8-412(c) would make that deadline sometime after 40 days: “Unless otherwise ordered by the appellate court, the date by which the appellant’s brief must be filed shall be no earlier than 40 days after the date the Clerk sends the notice” (emphasis added).

Depending on the date that the clerk selects, then, the parties could, under the contemplated rule modifications, end up having a little extra breathing room on filing the brief. The matter was on the agenda for this month’s Rules Committee meeting; while affirmatively requiring notice seems like a no-brainer correction, stay tuned to see if the shifting due dates make their way into the 187th Rules Committee Report to the Court of Appeals.

Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, LLC has a robust appellate practice, with former Court of Appeals Judge Joe Murphy as a member. Erin Murphy, a prominent practitioner, and Chris Mincher, who clerked for Judge McDonald on the Court of Appeals, are also members of the firm. Please contact any of them for further information at (410) 385-2225.