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Local Civil Rules

16.6      Settlement conferences - The court may order a settlement conference to be held before a judge. All parties may be required to be present. For parties that are not natural persons, a natural person representing that party who possesses ultimate settlement authority may be required to attend the settlement conference. In cases where an insured party does not have full settlement authority, an official of the insurer with ultimate authority to negotiate a settlement may also be required to attend.


Local Civil Rule 40.  Trial date

40.1      Scheduling - Cases shall be set for trial in the manner and at the time designated by the judge before whom the cause is pending. Any case may be assigned from one judge to another with the consent of both judges to promote the efficient administration of justice.

40.2      Continuances - A motion for a continuance of a trial or other proceeding shall be made only for good cause and as soon as the need arises.

40.3      Notice of settlement - Whenever a case is settled or otherwise disposed out of court, counsel for all parties shall assure that immediate notice is given to the court. This shall be accomplished by both calling the court and e-filing a notice of settlement, unless otherwise specified in the judge’s judicial guidelines posted on the court’s website. Should a failure to provide immediate notice result in having jurors unnecessarily report for service in connection with the case, the court may, on its own motion, for good cause shown, assess costs incurred in having jurors report for service equally between the parties or against one or more of the parties responsible for failure to notify the court.

Local Civil Rule 41.  Involuntary dismissal for want of prosecution or failure to follow rules

41.1      A judicial officer may issue an order to show cause why a case should not be dismissed for lack of prosecution or for failure to comply with these rules, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or any court order. If good cause is not shown within the time set in the show cause order, the presiding judge may enter an order of dismissal with or without prejudice, with or without costs. Failure of a plaintiff to keep the court apprised of a current address shall be grounds for dismissal for want of prosecution.

Local Civil Rule 45.  Service of subpoenas

45.1      Unless otherwise ordered, all subpoenas to be served by the United States Marshals Service shall allow a minimum of fourteen (14) days prior to the required appearance. LCivR 4.1 governs payment of fees to the marshal.

Local Civil Rule 47.  Confidentiality of juror information

47.1      Confidentiality of juror information

  1. All information obtained from juror questionnaires is confidential and may be used only for jury selection and in accordance with this rule.
  2. All copies of juror questionnaires must be destroyed or returned to the court upon completion of jury selection, or at any earlier time determined by the court.
  3. For represented parties, counsel of record is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality and security of juror questionnaires, and must apply security practices no less stringent than those applicable to confidential client information. Unrepresented parties may use juror questionnaires only under supervision of the court, and may not reproduce the juror questionnaires in any form, or distribute them to anyone.
  4. Juror questionnaires will be electronically filed under restricted access three (3) business days before trial. Electronic access will be available to the court and counsel of record only. The court will provide unrepresented parties with one paper copy of the juror questionnaires at the beginning of jury selection. Juror questionnaires will not be available via mail or facsimile transmission.
  5. Documents containing the name or signature of a juror shall be filed under restricted access. Electronic access will be available to the court and counsel of record only. Such restricted access documents may include but are not limited to a jury verdict or juror notes and attachments thereto. A duplicate jury verdict or juror notes, with the name and signature of the juror redacted, will be electronically filed and available to the public.


Local Civil Rule 54.  Costs and Attorney's Fees

54.1      Taxation of costs - If the parties in a case can agree on costs, it is not necessary to file a cost bill with the clerk. If the parties cannot agree, a bill of costs shall be filed with the clerk within twenty-eight (28) days from the entry of judgment. If a bill of costs is filed, any party objecting to the taxation of costs must file a motion to disallow all or part of the claimed costs within fourteen (14) days of service of the bill of costs on that party. The motion and response thereto shall be governed by LCivR 7.1 and 7.3.

54.2      Attorney’s fees in certain Social Security cases

  1. Scope of rule - The procedures set forth in this rule apply to motions for attorney’s fees brought under 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1)(A) (Social Security disability claims) or 42 U.S.C. § 1383(d)(2)(A) (supplemental security income claims), which allow an attorney to obtain fees from the client’s award of past-due benefits for work performed in the district court. It is necessary to prescribe a special procedure for such cases, because the amount of past-due benefits is unknown at the time judgment for the claimant is entered in the district court. This rule does not apply to motions for fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which are governed by the procedures set forth in that Act. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d).
  2. Procedure
    1. Deadline for filing motion - The attorney must file a motion for approval of fees under 42 U.S.C. §§ 406(b)(1)(A) or 1383(d)(2)(A) no later than thirty-five (35) days after the date shown on the face of the notice of award issued by the Social Security Administration.
    2. Requirements for motion - The motion must be accompanied by a supporting brief and all necessary documentation. The motion must state the following:
      1. the past due benefits;
      2. the total dollar amount withheld by the Commissioner out of the past due benefits to cover a potential award of attorneys fees in this court;
      3. the dollar amount (if any) of fees the attorney was awarded, has sought, or intends to seek pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(a) for services performed at the administrative level of review;
      4. whether the attorney has knowledge of any other representative(s) who were awarded, sought, or will seek authorization for fees under 42 U.S.C. § 406(a);
      5. the dollar amount of fees sought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406(b);
      6. the dollar amount of court costs, fees, and/or expenses sought or already awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act (28 U.S.C. § 2412);
      7. an itemization of the services provided in judicial proceedings, specifying the hours worked, the work performed, and the attorney’s hourly billing rate;
      8. an argument establishing that the fees sought are authorized under any applicable fee agreement, are reasonable; and
      9. in addition to complying with the requirements of LCivR 7.1, an affirmative statement that the attorney has discussed the matter of fees with the plaintiff and the plaintiff either has no objection to the amount of fees sought in the motion, or that the plaintiff and the attorney disagree as to the reasonableness of the fees sought.
    3. The fee motion must be accompanied by:
      1. legible copies of all of the notices of award showing the amount of past due benefits and the amount(s) withheld by the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. §§ 406, 1383;
      2. a copy of any fee agreement entered into between the plaintiff and the attorney; and
      3. a certificate of service that the attorney’s fee motion and attachments have been served on the U.S. attorney and on the plaintiff.
    4. Response - Any response by the client or defendant must be filed within twenty-one (21) days after the motion for attorney’s fees is served. Reply briefs are not permitted absent leave of court.


Local Civil Rule 65.  Bonds and sureties

65.1      In all civil actions the clerk shall accept as surety upon bonds and other undertakings a surety company approved by the United States Department of Treasury, cash or an individual personal surety residing within the district. The clerk shall maintain a list of approved surety companies. Any personal surety must qualify as the owner of real estate within this district of the full net value of twice the face amount of the bond. Attorneys or other officers of this court shall not serve as sureties. This rule shall apply to supersedeas bonds and any other bonds required by law.

Local Civil Rule 67.  Deposit in court; payment of judgment

67.1      Deposit of funds - Any order requiring the clerk to make investment of funds in an interest bearing account shall not be effective until such order is personally served on the clerk.

67.2      Payment of judgment - Except with respect to litigation in which the United States is a party, the clerk will not, unless authorized by order of the court, accept payment of judgments. Upon receipt of payment of a judgment, however, the party shall file with the clerk an acknowledgment of payment.


Local Civil Rule 72.  Authority of magistrate judges

72.1      Authority, generally - The magistrate judges of this district are hereby empowered to perform all duties authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and any other duty not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States, as more fully set forth below.

  1. Duties under 28 U.S.C. § 636(a) - Each magistrate judge of this court is empowered to perform all duties prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 636(a).
  2. Determination of nondispositive pretrial matters - 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) - A magistrate judge may hear and determine any procedural or discovery motion or other pretrial matter in a case, other than the motions which are specified in LCivR 72.1(c).
  3. Recommendations regarding case dispositive motions - 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) -
    1. A magistrate judge may submit to a district judge a report containing proposed findings of fact and recommendations for disposition by the district judge of the following pretrial motions in civil cases:
      1. motion for injunctive relief, including temporary restraining orders and preliminary and permanent injunctions;
      2. motions for judgment on the pleadings;
      3. motions for summary judgment;
      4. motions to dismiss or permit the maintenance of a class action;
      5. motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted;
      6. motions to involuntarily dismiss an action; or
      7. motions for review of default judgments.
    2. A magistrate judge may determine any preliminary matters and conduct any necessary evidentiary hearing or other proceeding arising in the exercise of the authority conferred by this rule.
  4. Prisoner cases under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254 and 2255 - A magistrate judge may perform any or all of the duties imposed upon a district judge by the rules governing proceedings in the United States District Courts under §§ 2254 and 2255 of Title 28, United States Code and may review all other applications for relief made under 28 U.S.C. Chapter 153. In so doing, a magistrate judge may issue any preliminary orders and conduct any necessary evidentiary hearing or other appropriate proceeding and may submit to a district judge a report containing proposed findings of fact and recommendations for disposition of the petition. Any order disposing of the petition may only be made by a district judge.
  5. Prisoner cases under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - A magistrate judge may issue any preliminary orders and conduct any necessary evidentiary hearing or other appropriate proceeding and may submit to a district judge a report containing proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of petitions filed by prisoners challenging the conditions of their confinement. Any order disposing of the petition may only be made by a district judge.
  6. Other duties - A magistrate judge is also authorized to perform any additional duty not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

72.2      Assignment of matters to magistrate judges - Unless otherwise ordered by the district judge to whom a case is assigned, the magistrate judge assigned to any case may hear and determine any nondispositive pretrial matters in that case without any further order of reference.

  1. General cases - The method for assignment and reassignment of duties to a magistrate judge and for the allocation of duties among the several magistrate judges of the court shall be made in accordance with orders of the court or by special designation of the Chief Judge.
  2. Habeas corpus and prisoner civil rights cases - At the time of filing any habeas corpus or prisoner civil rights case, the clerk shall assign the case to a district judge and to a magistrate judge in accordance with procedures established by these rules and the implementing orders of the court. The assigned magistrate judge may enter such orders and conduct such proceedings in that case as are authorized by statute or rule, without any further order of reference. An order disposing of the case may only be entered by a district judge.

72.3      Review and appeal of magistrate judge decisions

  1. Appeal of nondispositive matters - 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) - Any party may appeal from a magistrate judge's order determining any motion or matter within fourteen (14) days after service of the magistrate judge's order, unless a different time is prescribed by the magistrate judge or the district judge. Such party shall file and serve a written statement of appeal which shall specifically designate the order, or part thereof, appealed from and the basis for any objection thereto. In any case in which the decision of the magistrate judge is reflected only in an oral opinion on the record, the appealing party shall provide the district judge with a transcript of the oral opinion, unless excused by the district judge. Any party may respond to another party's objections within fourteen (14) days of service. Objections and responses shall conform to the word count and page limits for briefs set forth in LCivR 7.3(b). A district judge of the court shall consider the appeal and shall set aside any portion of the magistrate judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.
  2. Review of case dispositive motions and prisoner litigation - 28 U.S.C § 636(b)(1)(B) - Any party may object to a magistrate judge's proposed findings, recommendations or report within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy thereof unless a different time is prescribed by the magistrate judge or a district judge. Such party shall file and serve written objections which shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings, recommendations or report to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. Any party may respond to another party's objections within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy thereof. Objections and responses shall conform to the word count and page limits for briefs set forth in LCivR 7.2(b). A district judge shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The district judge, however, need conduct a new hearing only where required by law, and may consider the record developed before the magistrate judge, making a de novo determination on the basis of that record. The district judge may also receive further evidence, recall witnesses or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
  3. Special master reports - 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(2) - Any party may seek review of, or action on, a special master report filed by a magistrate judge in accordance with the provisions of Rule 53(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
  4. Appeals from other orders of a magistrate judge - Appeals from any other decisions and orders of a magistrate judge not provided for in this rule should be taken as provided by governing statute, rule, or decisional law.

Local Civil Rule 73.  Consent jurisdiction of magistrate judges

73.1      Conduct of trials and disposition of cases - 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) - Upon the consent of all parties, a magistrate judge may conduct any or all proceedings in any case, including the conduct of a jury or non-jury trial, and may order the entry of a final judgment, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

73.2      Assignment of cases to magistrate judges - In an effort to increase the number of consent cases, which serves the interests of promoting judicial economy, the court may issue an administrative order adopting procedures for assignment of some civil actions to magistrate judges.

73.3      Notice - The clerk shall notify the parties in cases of their option to consent to have a magistrate judge conduct any or all proceedings as provided by law.

73.4      Execution of consent - The clerk shall not accept a consent form unless it has been signed by all the parties in a case. No consent form will be made available, nor will its contents be made known, to any judge, unless all parties have consented to the reference to a magistrate judge. No magistrate judge or other court official may attempt to persuade or induce any party to consent to the reference of any matter to a magistrate judge. This rule, however, shall not preclude a district judge or magistrate judge from informing the parties that they have the option of consenting to a magistrate judge.

73.5      Reference - After the consent form has been executed and filed, the clerk shall transmit it to the district judge to whom the case has been assigned for approval and referral of the case to a magistrate judge, if necessary. Once the case has been assigned to a magistrate judge, the magistrate judge shall have the authority to conduct any and all proceedings to which the parties have consented and to direct the clerk to enter a final judgment.


Local Civil Rule 77.  District courts and clerks; issuance of process

77.1      Time and place of holding court - The court shall be deemed to be in continuous session for transacting judicial business throughout the year. Proceedings may be held at such times and places within the district as the judge to whom the case is assigned shall designate.

77.2      Clerk’s office - The court maintains Southern Division offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing, and a Northern Division office in Marquette.

77.3      Issuance of process - Any party requesting the issuance of any process or who initiates any proceeding in which the issuance of process is required by statute, rule or order, shall prepare all required forms, including the following: (a) summons; (b) warrants of seizure and monition; (c) subpoenas to witnesses; (d) certificates of judgment; (e) writs of execution; (f) orders of sale; and (g) all process in garnishment or other aid in execution. The party where necessary shall present the process to the clerk for signature and sealing. The clerk shall make official forms of process available to attorneys admitted to practice in this court, or their agents or employees.


Local Civil Rule 83.  Miscellaneous

83.1      Certification of issues to state courts - Upon motion or after a hearing ordered by the judge sua sponte, the court may certify an issue for decision to the highest court of the state whose law governs any issue, claim or defense in the case. An order of certification shall be accompanied by written findings that: (a) the issue certified is an unsettled issue of state law; (b) the issue certified will likely affect the outcome of the federal suit; and (c) certification of the issue will not cause undue delay or prejudice. The order shall also include citation to authority authorizing the state court involved to resolve certified questions. In all such cases, the order of certification shall stay federal proceedings for a fixed time, which shall be subsequently enlarged only upon a showing that such additional time is required to obtain a state court decision. In cases certified to the Michigan Supreme Court, in addition to the findings required by this rule, the court must approve a statement of facts to be transmitted to the Michigan Supreme Court by the parties as an appendix to briefs filed therein.

83.2      Payment to court reporters and transcribers - All parties ordering a transcript must pay in advance by cash or certified check unless the court reporter/transcriber agrees to other arrangements.