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A Day is a Day

A Day is a Day: Changes in Vermont Procedural Rules Regarding Time Computation

By Emily Wetherell

Beginning on January 1, 2018, every day will really count.  The Vermont Supreme Court has promulgated a set of amendments to procedural rules, which take effect the first of the year, to simplify the process of computing deadlines and to change the time requirements of many rules.  These changes will discard the former practice of excluding weekends and holidays in calculating due dates for time periods less than 11 days.  Under the new system, for all time periods, a day will be counted as a day, whether it is a Saturday, Sunday, holiday, or weekday.  The main objectives of the changes are to make the process of calculating time periods more consistent, simpler, and more predictable.  

Because every day is now counted for all time periods, including those under 11 days, many of the time periods of 10 days or less were lengthened so that the actual length of the period is approximately the same.  When possible, time periods were converted to multiples of 7 so that periods starting on a working day also end on a working day.  In general, the following changes were made: 3 days became 5; 5 and 6 days became 7; 7 remains unchanged; 10 and 15 days became 14; 20 days became 21; and 45 and 41 days became 42.  Thirty-day periods, including 30-day appeal periods, remain unchanged.  The changes affect time periods in all divisions of the superior court.  The counting method applies to periods in procedural rules, as well as applicable statutes and court orders that do not otherwise specify a method for counting time.  The promulgated orders delineating each change are available on the judiciary website at the following address: https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/attorneys/rules/promulgated

A few highlights of the rule changes:

·        Every day counts.  Unless specifically designated as “business days,” all time periods use calendar days.

·        Some rules specifically designate time periods as “business days,” which the rules define as days that are not Saturdays, Sundays, or federal or state holidays.

·        When the last day of a time period is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the deadline is determined by continuing to count in the same direction the time period runs.  So, if it is a forward-looking time period (for example, a motion must be filed 14 days after entry of judgment), you count forward to the next day that is not a          Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.  If it is a backward-looking time period (for example, a filing must be made 14 days before a hearing), you count backwards to the            first day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

·        Any time the clerk’s office is inaccessible, the extension continues forward (no matter how the time period is counted) until the office is accessible.

·        The 10-day time periods for filing motions in V.R.C.P. 50, 52, and 59 have been increased to 28 days.  This conforms to the federal standard for motion practice.

·        Additional Time for Certain Kinds of Service.  There are still 3 additional days when a party is required to act within a particular time after being served and service is made by mailing, leaving with the clerk, or sending by electronic means (if allowed by rules).  This applies in all divisions of the superior court under V.R.C.P. 6(e),                V.R.A.P. 26(c), V.R.Cr.P. 45(e), and V.R.P.P. 6(d).