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Introduction to the Civil Rules



CIVIL RULES INTRODUCTION TO THE CIVIL RULES

These are the Local Rules of practice for civil proceedings before the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. These rules, promulgated under 28 U.S.C. § 2071 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 83, have been adopted by the judges of the district and apply to all civil proceedings before this court unless otherwise ordered in a specific case.

The judges of this district are committed to assisting the bar and litigants to reduce costs in civil cases. It is the obligation of all counsel, as officers of the court, to work toward the prompt completion of each case and to minimize the costs of discovery. The local rules provide the judges and attorneys with basic tools for the management of civil cases, including discovery. Attorneys and litigants are urged to use these tools creatively and cooperatively to manage civil cases on a cost-effective basis and to develop a cost-effective case management plan in each case.

While no list is exhaustive, attorneys and litigants should consider the following means for reducing costs: (a) limiting discovery and phasing discovery and motions to bring on for early resolution potentially dispositive issues; (b) the availability of judges to resolve discovery disputes by telephone or informal conference; (c) scheduling discovery or case management conferences with the judge assigned to the case as necessary; (d) early referral to mediation through Local Rule 39.1 or other alternative dispute resolution mechanism; (e) the use of an abbreviated pretrial order; and (f) consenting to the assignment of the case to a United States magistrate judge for the conduct of all proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The judges will support the use of these tools and, if necessary, impose them, when appropriate and helpful to reduce costs or more effectively manage and resolve civil cases.

Along with the cost of civil litigation, the judges of this district are very concerned about professionalism among attorneys, especially in the conduct of discovery. The judges of this district expect a high degree of professionalism from the lawyers practicing before them. The orders issued by judges of this district at the outset of a case to govern conduct and scheduling of written discovery and depositions express those expectations. There should be no difference between the professional conduct of counsel when appearing before the court and when engaged outside it whether in discovery or any other phase of a case.

All counsel and unrepresented parties are encouraged to review their assigned judge’s web page for procedural information specifically applicable to each judge. The Local Rules, Electronic Filing Procedures for Civil and Criminal Cases, court forms, instruction sheets, General Orders, and judges’ web pages can be found on the court’s website at www.wawd.uscourts.gov.

LCR 1 SCOPE AND PURPOSE; DEFINITIONS; PROHIBITION OF BIAS

(a) Purpose

These rules should be interpreted so as to be consistent with the Federal Rules and to promote the just, efficient, speedy, and economical determination of every action and proceeding.

(b) Other Local Rules

In addition to these rules, this district has promulgated local rules in the following subject areas: admiralty and maritime, bankruptcy, criminal proceedings, proceedings before magistrate judges, and patent, all of which can be found on the court’s website.

(c) Definitions

(1) “Chief Judge” of this district is the judge who has attained that position pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 136. The Chief Judge shall have precedence and preside at any session that he or she attends. The current Chief Judge of this district is identified on the court’s website.

(2) “Clerk” or “Clerk of Court” refers to the District Court Executive/Clerk of Court or a deputy Clerk of Court.

(3) “Court” refers to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and to a Judge, Clerk, or deputy clerk acting on behalf of the Court.

(4) “General Orders” are made by the Chief Judge or by the court relating to court administration and are available on the court’s website.

(5) “Judge” refers to a United States District Judge, a United States Bankruptcy Judge, or United States Magistrate Judge.

(6) “Meet and Confer” means a good faith conference in person or by telephone to attempt to resolve the matter in dispute without the court’s involvement. The court expects a high degree of professionalism and collegiality among counsel during any meet and confer conference.

(7) “Stipulated Motion” is a stipulation (agreement) between or among the parties presented to the court with a proposed order.

(d) Prohibition of Bias

Litigation, inside and outside the courtroom in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, must be free from prejudice and bias in any form. Fair and equal

treatment must be accorded all courtroom participants, whether judges, attorneys, witnesses, litigants, jurors, or court personnel. The duty to be respectful of others includes the responsibility to avoid comment or behavior that can reasonably be interpreted as manifesting prejudice or bias toward another on the basis of categories such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, or sexual orientation.

LCR 2 RESERVED

LCR 3 COMMENCEMENT AND ASSIGNMENT OF ACTIONS

(a) Civil Cover Sheet Required

Every complaint shall be accompanied by a Civil Cover Sheet, Form JS-44 revised. All civil actions in which jurisdiction is invoked in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. § 1338 (regarding patents, copyrights and trademarks) shall be accompanied by the required notice to the Patent and Trademark Office, Form AO 120, in patent and trademark matters, and by the required notice, Form AO 121, in copyright matters. These forms are available on the court’s website and on the U.S. Courts website at www.uscourts.gov.

(b) Proceedings In Forma Pauperis (Without Payment of Court Fees)

At the time application is made under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 or other applicable acts of Congress for leave to commence any civil action or to file any petition or motion without being required to prepay fees and costs or give security for them, each petitioner, movant or plaintiff shall:

(1) Complete the in forma pauperis application approved for use in this district for the specific type of case; and

(2) File a written consent that the recovery, if any, in the action, to such amount as the court may direct, shall be paid to the clerk who may pay therefrom all unpaid fees and costs taxed against the plaintiff, and to his attorney the amount which the court allows or approves as compensation for the attorney's services.

(3) In all proceedings in forma pauperis, for a writ of habeas corpus, or under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the marshal shall pay all fees of witnesses for the party authorized to proceed in forma pauperis, upon the certificate of the judge.

(c) Initial Case Assignment

Unless otherwise provided in these Rules or the General Orders of the Court, all actions, causes and proceedings shall be assigned by the clerk to judges by random selection.

(d) Intradistrict Assignment and Reassignment

(1) In all civil cases in which all defendants reside, or in which all defendants have their principal places of business, or in which the claim arose in the counties of Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum, the case will usually be assigned to a judge in Tacoma. In cases where all defendants have their principal places of business, or in which the claim arose in the counties of Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, or Whatcom, the case will be assigned to a judge in Seattle. A civil action arises where a substantial part of the events or omissions that give rise to the claim occurred or where a substantial part of the property that is the subject of the action is situated. Cases removed from state court will

be initially assigned to the Seattle Division or Tacoma Division according to the county where the action is pending.

(2) In some circumstances, a judge will order that a case that would otherwise be considered a Tacoma case be assigned to a Seattle judge, and vice versa.

(3) See LCR 42 for additional information regarding the intradistrict transfer of cases to facilitate consolidation.

(e) Motions to Recuse

Whenever a motion to recuse directed at a judge of this court is filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144 or 28 U.S.C. § 455, the challenged judge will review the motion papers and decide whether to recuse voluntarily. If the challenged judge decides not to voluntarily recuse, he or she will direct the clerk to refer the motion to the chief judge, or the chief judge’s designee. If the motion is directed at the chief judge, or if the chief judge or the chief judge’s designee is unavailable, the clerk shall refer it to the active judge with the highest seniority.

(f) Notice of Related Cases

A plaintiff must list all related cases in the Civil Cover Sheet.

(1) Unless an action is listed as related in the Civil Cover Sheet, a party must file a Notice of Related Case alerting the court as soon as it knows or learns that another action that was or is pending in this district may be related to the party’s case. The notice should include the case number, presiding judge, and parties involved in the related case, and an explanation of the relationship between or among the cases.

(2) An action is related to another when the actions: (A) concern substantially the same parties, property, transaction, or event; and

(B) it appears likely that there will be an unduly burdensome duplication of labor and expense or the potential for conflicting results if the cases are conducted before different judges.

(g) Notice of Pendency of Other Action in Another Jurisdiction or Forum

Whenever a party knows or learns that its pending case involves all or a material part of the same subject matter and all or substantially the same parties as another action that is pending in any other federal or state court, before an administrative body, or before an arbitrator, the party must file a Notice of Pendency of Other Action within five days of learning of the other action. The Notice must contain the title and case number of the other action, a brief description of the other action, the title and location of the court or other forum in which the other action is pending, a statement of any relationship between the two actions, a statement regarding whether transfer

should be effected pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 (Multi District Litigation Procedures) if the action is pending in another U.S. District Court, and a statement regarding whether coordination between the actions might avoid conflicts, conserve resources and promote an efficient determination of the action.

(h) Transfer or Remand of Actions; Effective Date

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an order transferring a case to another district or remanding a case shall become effective 14 days after the date the order is filed.

(a) Form of Summons

LCR 4 SUMMONS

It is the obligation of a party seeking the issuance of a summons by the clerk to present the summons to the clerk in the proper form, prepared for issuance, with sufficient copies for service. Forms of summons may be obtained from the clerk.

(b) Reserved

(c) Service with Complaint; by Whom Made

Except as provided for herein, the United States Marshals Service is relieved from any and all civil process serving responsibilities within this district on behalf of private litigants. The private litigant or attorney of record for the private litigant shall make appropriate arrangements with a person authorized to serve process. Upon order of this court or pursuant to an express statutory provision, however, the United States Marshals Service shall make service of civil process on behalf of a private litigant or his attorney of record.

LCR 4.1 SERVING OTHER PROCESS

(a) Service of Other Process by United States Marshals Service

As set forth in LCR 4, the United States Marshals Service is relieved from any and all civil process serving responsibilities within this district on behalf of private litigants but may make service under the circumstances set forth in the rule. The United States Marshals Service shall, however, serve warrants and other process as prescribed in the Supplemental Admiralty Rules.

LCR 5 SERVING AND FILING PLEADINGS AND OTHER PAPERS

(a) Reserved

(b) The Court Authorizes Service Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b) by Electronic Means

The court authorizes parties to use the court’s Electronic Case Filing System (ECF) to effect service of documents under Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b). This provision does not alter Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(d); Rule 26 initial disclosures and discovery requests and responses must not be filed until they are used in the proceedings or the court orders filing. If the recipient is a registered participant in the ECF system, service is complete when the document is electronically filed or uploaded to the docket. If the recipient is not a registered participant in the ECF system, the filer must effect service in paper form according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

(c) Reserved

(d) Electronic Filing and Signing

The court allows papers to be filed and signed by electronic means. Unless otherwise specifically ordered by the court or directed by the clerk, all counsel are required to electronically file documents through the court’s electronic filing system and to comply with the electronic filing procedures for the district. Unrepresented parties may, but are not required to, electronically file documents. The court’s Electronic Filing Procedures for Civil and Criminal Cases can be found on the court’s website at www.wawd.uscourts.gov

(e) Reserved

(f) Proof of Service

Proof of service of all filings required or permitted to be served, other than those for which a method of proof is prescribed in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, shall be made by a certificate or acknowledgment of service on the document itself. Parties should not file a separate proof of service document unless it is necessary. Failure to make the proof of service required by this subdivision does not affect the validity of the service, and the court may at any time allow the proof of service to be amended or supplied unless it clearly appears that to do so would result in material prejudice to any party.

(g) Sealing and Redacting of Court Records

There is a strong presumption of public access to the court’s files. This rule applies in all instances where a party seeks to overcome the policy and the presumption by filing a document under seal.

(1) A party must explore all alternatives to filing a document under seal.

  1. (A) If the party seeks to file the document under seal because another party has designated it as confidential during discovery, the filing party and the designating party must meet and confer to determine whether the designating party will withdraw the confidential designation or will agree to redact the document so that sealing is unnecessary.

  2. (B) Parties must protect sensitive information by redacting sensitive information (including, but not limited to, the mandatory redactions of LCR 5.2) that the court does not need to consider. A party who cannot avoid filing a document under seal must comply with the remainder of this rule.

  3. (2) A party may file a document under seal in only two circumstances:

  4. (A) if a statute, rule, or prior court order expressly authorizes the party to file the document under seal; or

  5. (B) if the party files a motion or stipulated motion to seal the document before or at the same time the party files the sealed document. Filing a motion or stipulated motion to seal permits the party to file the document under seal without prior court approval pending the court’s ruling on the motion to seal. The document will be kept under seal until the court determines whether it should remain sealed.

  6. A party filing a document under seal shall prominently mark its first page with the phrase “FILED UNDER SEAL.”

  7. (3) A motion to seal a document, even if it is a stipulated motion, must include the following:

  8. (A) a certification that the party has met and conferred with all other parties in an attempt to reach agreement on the need to file the document under seal, to minimize the amount of material filed under seal, and to explore redaction and other alternatives to filing under seal; this certification must list the date, manner, and participants of the conference;

  9. (B) a specific statement of the applicable legal standard and the reasons for keeping a document under seal, with evidentiary support from declarations where necessary.

  10. Where parties have entered a litigation agreement or stipulated protective order (see LCR 26(c)(2)) governing the exchange in discovery of documents that a party deems confidential, a party wishing to file a confidential document it obtained from another party in discovery may file a motion to seal but need not satisfy subpart (3)(B) above. Instead, the party who designated the document confidential must satisfy subpart (3)(B) in its response to the motion to seal or in a stipulated motion.

  1. (4) A party must minimize the number of documents it files under seal and the length of each document it files under seal. Where the document to be sealed is an exhibit to a document filed electronically, an otherwise blank page reading “EXHIBIT __ FILED UNDER SEAL” shall replace the exhibit in the document filed without sealing, and the exhibit to be filed under seal shall be filed as a separate sealed docket entry. Where the document to be sealed is a declaration, the declaration shall be filed as a separate sealed docket entry.

  2. (5) Only in rare circumstances should a party file a motion, opposition, or reply under seal. A party who cannot avoid including confidential information in a motion, opposition, or reply must follow this procedure:

  3. (A) the party shall redact the confidential information from the motion, opposition, or reply and publicly file the redacted motion, opposition, or reply; and

  4. (B) the party shall file the unredacted motion, opposition, or reply under seal, accompanied by a motion or stipulated motion to seal the unredacted motion, opposition, or reply in compliance with part (3) above.

  5. (6) When the court denies a motion to seal, the clerk will unseal the document unless (1) the court orders otherwise, or (2) the party who is relying on the sealed document requests in the motion to seal or response that, if the motion to seal is denied, the court withdraw the document from the record rather than unseal it. If a document is withdrawn on this basis, the parties shall not refer to it in any pleadings, motions or other filings, and the court will not consider it. For this reason, parties are encouraged to seek a ruling on motions to seal well in advance of filing underlying motions relying on those documents.

  6. (7) When a court grants a motion to seal or otherwise permits a document to remain under seal, the document will remain under seal until further order of the court.

  7. (8) Parties may file a motion or stipulated motion requesting that the court unseal a document. A non-party seeking access to a sealed document may intervene in a case for the purpose of filing a motion to unseal the document.

  8. (9) When a party files a paper copy of a sealed document, the party shall seal the document in an envelope marked with the case caption and the phrase “FILED UNDER SEAL.” This requirement applies to pro se parties and others who are exempt from mandatory electronic filing and to parties submitting courtesy copies to comply with LCR 10(e)(9).

LCR 5.1 RESERVED

(a) Redacted Filings

LCR 5.2 REDACTION OF FILINGS

Parties shall refrain from including, or shall partially redact where inclusion is necessary, the following personal data identifiers from all documents filed with the court or used as exhibits in any hearing or at trial, unless otherwise ordered by the court:

(1) Dates of Birth - redact to the year of birth (2) Names of Minor Children - redact to the initials (3) Social Security Numbers and Taxpayer-Identification Numbers- redact in their entirety (4) Financial Accounting Information - redact to the last four digits (5) Passport Numbers and Driver License Numbers - redact in their entirety

(b) Reserved

(c) Social Security Appeals and Immigration Cases

Unless the court orders otherwise, in an action for benefits under the Social Security Act and in an immigration action or proceeding relating to an order of removal, to relief from removal, or to immigration benefits or detention, the administrative record must be filed under seal, and the court will maintain it under seal. These actions are entitled to special treatment due to the prevalence of sensitive information and the volume of filings. A party filing any excerpt of the record separately must redact all personal information in accordance with LCR 5.2(a) or move to file the document under seal in accordance with LCR 5(g).

(a) Computing Time

LCR 6 COMPUTING AND EXTENDING TIME