On July 23, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota amended its local rules. Although most of the changes were stylistic in nature only, the Court made substantive changes to Local Rules 7.1, 16.2, 16.3, 16.6, 26.1, and 72.2.  The Court also made substantive changes to Forms 3 and 4, amended its Notice of Hearing form, and created a new Meet-and-Confer Statement form.  This article focuses on the majority of the Court’s substantive changes made to Local Rule 7.1 – the Court’s local rule related to motion practice.  Other changes made to the Court’s local rules and forms can be found at the District of Minnesota’s court website -http://www.mnd.uscourts.gov.

The District of Minnesota made several substantive changes to Local Rule 7.1.  Under new L.R. 7.1(a), moving parties must now meet and confer with an opposing party before filing any civil motion, with two notable exceptions: (1) a motion for a temporary restraining order, or (2) a summary judgment motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.  In the circumstances where an opposing party is unavailable to meet and confer before the motion is filed, the parties must “promptly” meet and confer after the motion is filed.

Parties must now also file a meet-and-confer statement with the motion, or supplement the motion with a meet-and-confer statement if the parties cannot meet and confer until after the motion is filed.  The meet-and-confer statement must certify that the moving party met and conferred with the opposing party, and state whether the parties agreed to a resolution on all or part of the motion, and if so, whether the agreed-to resolution should be included in a court order.  If the parties agree on a resolution after the meet-and-confer statement is filed, the parties must “promptly notify the [C]ourt of their agreement by filing a joint stipulation.”

The Court also made changes to L.R. 7.1(b) and (c) (formerly L.R. 7.1(a)-(b)) to clarify that parties should file motions and supporting documents simultaneously, rather than filing a motion first and the supporting documents later.  The Court also changed the method for calculating the deadline for filing response briefs to all motions, and reply briefs in support of a dispositive motion.  Deadlines for such briefs are now based on the filing date of the moving party’s motion papers, rather than on the hearing date.  Moreover, parties now have 14 days to reply to a response brief to a dispositive motion, rather than 7 days as previously allowed.

The Court added L.R. 7.1(c)(5) to “better reflect the practices of different district judges with respect to scheduling hearings on dispositive motions.”  The Rule now states that the Court may, at any time after a party files a dispositive motion and supporting documents, schedule a hearing (if no hearing was initially scheduled), reschedule a hearing, refer the motion to a magistrate judge, or cancel a hearing and notify the parties that the motion will be “otherwise resolved.”  Parties may also file a letter of no more than two pages requesting a hearing if the district judge has not scheduled one.  The request must be made no sooner than 14 days after the moving party has filed its reply or its notice that no reply will be filed.

Finally, the Court added L.R. 7.1(d) to provide guidance on how to file motions for emergency injunctive relief – i.e., motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction motions that require expedited handling.  The new Rule mandates that before filing a motion for emergency injunctive relief, the moving party “must contact the judge’s courtroom deputy to obtain a hearing date and briefing schedule.”  A motion for a temporary restraining order should be filed as a dispositive motion, but no meet-and-confer statement is required.  A preliminary injunction motion that requires expedited handling must make the request for expedited handling in the motion, and be filed as a dispositive motion, including filing a meet-and-confer statement.