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Local General Rules
1.1 Authority - These rules are promulgated pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 2071 and Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Amendment of these rules is governed by Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
1.2 Short title - These rules may be cited and referred to individually as "W.D. Mich. LGenR ____."
1.3 Amendments - These rules may be amended by a majority vote of the district judges in conformity with Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These rules include amendments through January 1, 2019.
1.4 Applicability - These rules apply to all proceedings in this court.
1.5 Scope - These rules govern the procedure in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, govern the practice of attorneys before this court, and supersede all previous rules promulgated by this court or any judge thereof. Administrative orders and single judge standing orders shall be maintained by the clerk on the court's website or made available upon request. All such orders shall be consistent with these rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
1.6 Construction - These rules shall be construed to achieve an orderly administration of the business of this court and to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action. References to statutes, regulations or rules shall be interpreted to include all revisions and amendments thereto. References to the clerk shall be interpreted to mean the clerk of this court or any deputy clerk. Wherever used in these rules, the term "party," whether in the singular or plural, shall include all parties appearing in the action pro se and the attorney or attorneys of record for represented parties, where appropriate.
2.1 Attorney admission to practice
- Applicant eligibility - An attorney may apply for admission to the bar of the court if the attorney:
- has been admitted to practice before a court of record of a state;
- is in good standing with that court of record of a state;
- is of good moral and professional character.
- Admission procedure - An applicant must pay the fee established by the court and provide the clerk of court with a completed application for admission as found on the court's website.
- Government attorneys - An attorney representing the United States, an agency of the United States, or representing a party as Federal Public Defender, is exempt from the fee payment, but must otherwise follow the admission procedure under LGenR 2.1(b).
- Admission - The Chief Judge may grant or deny the application for admission. Alternatively, the Chief Judge may refer the application to a three-judge panel for decision pursuant to the procedure identified on the court's website.
- Law student practice - A law student may appear before the court pursuant to the procedure established by this court and found on the court's website.
2.2 Permission to practice in a particular case
- Pro hac vice admission - This court disfavors pro hac vice admission and prefers that all lawyers appearing before it become full members of the bar of the court. Pro hac vice admission may nevertheless be allowed on a temporary basis pending full admission, or in unusual circumstances.
- Sanctions - Nothing in this rule detracts from the court’s power to sanction unprofessional conduct.
2.3 Attorney Discipline
- Discipline Generally - Any attorney practicing before the court is subject to discipline by the court upon a showing that the attorney is:
- currently reprimanded, suspended or disbarred by any admitting or licensing authority;
- convicted of a crime; or
- guilty of unprofessional conduct.
- Discipline by admitting or licensing authority; Procedure
- Attorney’s duty to notify - An attorney practicing before the court who is publicly reprimanded, suspended or disbarred by any admitting or licensing authority must inform the clerk in writing of the public reprimand, suspension or disbarment, within ten (10) days after the effective date of any such public reprimand, suspension, or disbarment.
- Automatic reciprocal discipline; Discretion to enhance discipline - Unless otherwise ordered by the court, any such attorney who has been suspended or disbarred by any admitting or licensing authority, whether by suspension, revocation, or disbarment, shall automatically forfeit his or her right to practice law before this court during the same period that such attorney has been prohibited from practicing law by such other licensing authority, or, under the court’s discretion, for a greater period of time. The clerk of court shall send a written notice to the attorney, together with a copy of this section of the Local Rules, informing the attorney of the forfeiture of his or her right to practice law before this court. Any failure or delay with regard to the sending of such notice shall not affect the automatic forfeiture provisions of this section.
- Grounds for challenge - Within thirty (30) days after the effective date of any suspension or disbarment by any admitting or licensing authority, the attorney may file a written challenge to the reciprocal discipline imposed under LGenR 2.3(b)(ii). To conclude that the entry of some other order is appropriate, the Chief Judge or by reference, a three-judge panel, must find that the record underlying the attorney’s suspension or disbarment clearly indicates that the:
- procedure was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process;
- proof establishing the misconduct was so infirm that the court could not—consistent with its duty—accept the conclusion of the admitting or licensing authority as final;
- court’s disqualification of the attorney would result in grave injustice; or
- court concludes that the misconduct underlying the attorney’s suspension or disbarment warrants substantially different discipline.
- Finality of the action of the admitting or licensing authority - Unless the court determines that one of the grounds contained in LGenR 2.3(b)(iii) exists, the admitting or licensing authority’s final adjudication of attorney misconduct conclusively establishes the misconduct for purposes of this court’s discipline.
- Reinstatement - Upon reinstatement of an attorney by any admitting or licensing authority, the attorney shall provide to the clerk of court written notice from the admitting or licensing authority confirming the reinstatement. The clerk of court shall transmit the confirmation to the Chief Judge who shall determine whether the attorney may be reinstated to practice before the court. Alternatively, the Chief Judge may refer the matter to a three-judge panel for decision.
- Criminal charges - Upon being charged with a crime, the attorney must inform the clerk of court, in writing, of charges within 10 days of receiving notice of the charges. Upon conviction of a crime, the attorney must immediately notify the clerk of court, in writing, of the conviction and must, at that time, provide the clerk of court with a complete copy of the criminal record, including charging documents and all filings in the matter. The attorney is under a continuing duty to provide all materials from the criminal case to the clerk of court when available. The clerk of court shall transmit the information to the Chief Judge who shall determine whether the attorney may practice before the court. Alternatively, the Chief Judge may refer the matter to a three-judge panel for decision.
- Discipline for unprofessional and improper conduct - If it appears to a Judge of this court that an attorney practicing before the court has violated the rules of professional conduct or is guilty of other conduct unbecoming an officer of the court, any judge may: 1) refer the matter to the Chief Judge of the district who shall determine whether the attorney should be disciplined or alternatively refer the matter to a three-judge panel or 2) for discipline, except suspension or disbarment, order an attorney to show cause—within a specified time—why the court should not discipline the attorney. Upon the expiration of the period specified or upon the attorney’s response to the show cause order, the court will enter an appropriate order. Upon the entry of an order for discipline, the attorney may seek review from the Chief Judge of the order for discipline. Alternatively, the Chief Judge may refer the matter to a three-judge panel for decision.
- Discipline for contempt - Disbarment from the court may be utilized as a sanction for contempt of court under the procedures contained in Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Nothing in this rule shall limit the court’s power to punish contempt.
- Resignation in other jurisdictions - If an attorney resigns from the bar of another court of the United States while an investigation into allegations of misconduct is pending, the attorney shall immediately be suspended from the court. The attorney shall promptly inform the clerk of the resignation. An attorney knowingly violating this notification provision may be charged with criminal contempt. The Chief Judge shall enter an order suspending the attorney, effective as of the date of resignation in the other jurisdiction. An attorney may apply to the Chief Judge for modification or vacation of the suspension. The Chief Judge may modify or vacate the suspension, or alternatively refer the matter to a three-judge panel.
2.4 Local counsel - If the law practice of an attorney practicing before the court is not located in proximity to the place where court is held, the court may—in its discretion—require the attorney to designate local counsel. To require local counsel, the court must enter an order articulating the reasons local counsel is required.
2.5 Appearance of counsel - Unless the court orders otherwise, an attorney is deemed an attorney of record by:
- appearing in court on behalf of a party;
- filing an entry of appearance; or
- signing a pleading, motion or other paper as attorney for a party.
The appearance of an attorney is deemed to be the appearance of the law firm. Any attorney in the firm may be required by the court to conduct a court-ordered conference or trial. Withdrawal of appearance may be accomplished only by leave of court.
- Referral of cases under Title 11 to bankruptcy judges - Pursuant to the powers granted by 28 U.S.C. § 157(a), all cases under Title 11 and all proceedings arising under Title 11 or arising in or related to a case under Title 11 previously filed or hereafter filed shall be referred to the bankruptcy judges of this district.
- Bankruptcy court jurisdiction in core and noncore related proceedings - The bankruptcy judge shall determine whether proceedings are core, or noncore related, and shall enter appropriate orders and judgments subject to those appeal rights afforded by 28 U.S.C. § 158 and Part VIII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. In those noncore related proceedings in which the parties timely object to the entry of a final judgment or order by the bankruptcy judge, the bankruptcy court shall file and serve proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on all dispositive matters. Objections shall be filed in accordance with Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9033. Upon submission by the bankruptcy court clerk to the district court clerk of the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and all objections timely filed thereto, the matter will be randomly assigned to a district judge who will conduct all further proceedings and enter a dispositive order.
- Jury trials - Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(e), the bankruptcy judges in this district are specially designated to conduct jury trials with the express consent of all parties, if the right to jury trial applies in any proceeding that may be heard by a bankruptcy judge. All bankruptcy judges shall adhere to the Jury Selection and Service Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1861-1878, and this court's jury selection plan. Upon request, the district court clerk shall supply a sufficient number of jurors for jury trials in the bankruptcy court. Procedure in jury cases, including time and form of jury demand, waiver, advisory juries and trial by consent shall be governed by local rule of the bankruptcy court.
- Local bankruptcy rules - Pursuant to Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9029(a)(1), a majority of the bankruptcy judges of this district are authorized to make rules of practice and procedure consistent with the bankruptcy rules.
4.1 Facility and environs
- Security screening; definitions; requirements
- As used in this rule, "federal court facility" includes any facility occupied by the United States District Court or any temporary facility occupied by a judge serving in the Western District of Michigan.
- All persons entering a federal court facility in the Western District of Michigan are required to present a valid government issued identification card with photo, pass through a security screening device, and have all belongings and packages subject to physical and/or security screening examination by the United States Marshals Service, court security officers, and employees of the Federal Protective Service. Any person who refuses to present a valid form of identification or pass through screening shall be denied entrance.
- Consent to provisions - Any person bringing in an electronic communication device as defined in LGenR 4.4(a) shall be determined to have consented to the provisions of this rule.
- Soliciting, loitering, and disruptive behavior
- The solicitation of business relating to bail bonds or to employment as counsel is prohibited.
- Loitering in or about federal court facilities is prohibited.
- Any behavior which impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of the business of the court is prohibited. Signs, placards, or banners may not be brought into a federal court facility or its environs.
- Recording of court proceedings
- Except as specifically provided herein, the recording of any proceeding is prohibited and no camera or recording device shall be permitted in a federal court facility. This prohibition shall include any device or contrivance capable of preserving or transmitting a visual image and any device or contrivance capable of recording, transmitting, or preserving any audible communication (except cell phones with camera features).
- The taking of photographs or video or audio recordings in connection with any judicial proceeding and the recording or broadcasting of judicial proceedings by radio, television or any other means is prohibited.
- As used in this rule, "judicial proceeding" includes proceedings before district, bankruptcy or magistrate judges, and sessions of the grand jury.
- As used in this rule, "in connection with any judicial proceeding" includes all participants in a judicial proceeding while they are in a courtroom or its environs.
- A judicial officer may authorize, by written notice to the United States Marshals Service, the use of electronic or photographic means for the presentation of evidence or for the perpetuation of the record.
- A judge may authorize, by written notice to the United States Marshals Service:
- the broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing of investiture, ceremonial, or naturalization proceedings; and
- the radio or television broadcasting, audio or video recording or photographing of court proceedings pursuant to a resolution of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
- By written notice to the U.S. Marshals Service, the General Services Administration (GSA) property manager or his or her designee can authorize an individual or contract group to possess a camera or recording device for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing the facility, to include repair and alterations.
4.2 Firearms and weapons
- It is illegal to possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a federal court facility with or without the intent to commit a crime (Title 18, U.S.C. § 930). Firearms, knives, explosives, and other weapons are prohibited in federal court facilities and subject to confiscation.
- Exceptions to this rule include:
- judicial officers, the United States marshal, deputy marshals, court security officers, and employees of the Federal Protective Service;
- federal law enforcement agencies having offices in a federal court facility are exempt from the provisions regarding the carrying of weapons while entering the building and while going to and from the floor where their offices are located;
- employees of United States Probation and Pretrial Services who are authorized by law and agency regulations to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties may possess firearms in this facility to the extent necessary to transport such firearms by the most direct route available to and from their offices. In accordance with regulations of the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, all firearms shall be secured while present within their offices. The Chief U.S. Probation Officer will notify the United States Marshals Service in writing of all officers authorized to carry firearms. Employees of the United States Probation and Pretrial Services are prohibited from carrying firearms into courtrooms; and
- state, county, and local law enforcement officers who are:
- escorting prisoners to and from court under the direction of the United States Marshals Service, or
- assisting the United States Marshals Service by supporting or providing additional security, as directed, in and around federal court facilities.
- All other federal, state or local law enforcement officers are required to identify themselves and store their weapons in weapons lock boxes maintained by the United States Marshals Service. For security purposes, officers may be required to be screened after securing their weapons.
- The handling of firearms as exhibits in trials is governed by an administrative order issued by the court.
- An exception to this rule regarding weapons or firearms may only be made by the Chief Judge or the judge in whose courtroom the proceedings are occurring.
4.3 Electronic communication devices
- Definition - "Electronic communication devices" are defined as cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other communication devices capable of transmitting data, video or audio electronically using cellular, wireless, or other means.
- General policy - Except as provided in LGenR 4.3(c) and court orders, electronic communication devices are not permitted in federal court facilities.
- Exempted persons - The following persons are permitted to carry and use electronic communication devices within federal court facilities in the Western District of Michigan:
- Officers of the court - attorneys appearing in their official capacity as officers of the court;
- Building tenants - employees and visiting employees of the federal court facility;
- Parties to litigation - parties, other than defendants in criminal cases, who enter a federal court facility accompanied by their attorney, if their counsel certifies to security staff that such devices are necessary to facilitate litigation pending before the court;
- U.S. Marshals Service personnel - including court security officers and contract guards;
- Other federal, state, local law enforcement - when appearing in their official capacity;
- GSA approved contractors - by written notice to the U.S. Marshals Service, the GSA property manager or his or her designee may authorize an individual or contract group to possess an electronic communication device for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing the facility, to include repair and alterations;
- Jurors - grand jury members, petit jury members, and persons appearing as directed pursuant to a jury summons;
- Judicial authority - upon request to the court, a judicial officer may issue an order granting permission to an individual or group, otherwise not authorized to possess an electronic communication device. The U.S. Marshals Service shall be notified of such order;
- Members of the press - members of the press who present official credentials satisfactory to the U.S. Marshals Service; and
- Federal credentialing clients - by written notice to the U.S. Marshals Service, the GSA property manager or his or her designee may authorize an individual, who is a newly-retained contractor or prospective Federal Government employee, and who has not yet received his or her credentials, to possess an electronic communication device to attend their appointment in the GSA credentialing office.
- Conditions for authorized use of electronic communication devices - Unless express permission to the contrary is given by the presiding judicial officer, the following conditions and restrictions apply to those individuals authorized to carry an electronic communication device:
- while in a courtroom, electronic communication devices shall be in the off position at all times, unless the presiding judicial officer gives permission for use of the device;
- the device may not be used and must be turned off except in designated areas of the court facility;
- the device cannot be initiated, answered, examined, or manipulated (for text messaging or otherwise) while in a courtroom;
- the device may be used for communication by non-building tenants only in designated areas. Designated areas will be identified by each court facility by administrative order, to be posted prominently in each facility and on the court's website; and
- the electronic communication device may not be used for purposes of taking pictures or making any audio or video recording in violation of LGenR 4.1(c).
4.4 Facility conduct conditions
- Enforcement - The United States marshal, his or her deputies, and court security officers may demand from any individual in possession of an electronic communication device, to produce identification in aid of enforcement of this rule. If the identification does not satisfy the officer that the person in possession of the device is authorized in accordance with the terms of this rule, the officer may refuse admittance to this person and/or confiscate the device.
- Attorney discipline - An attorney violating this rule may be subject to discipline, including disbarment, in accordance with LGenR 2.
- Confiscation - A violation of this rule, including without limitation, unauthorized possession, use in an unauthorized space, possession of a device in an audible mode, and failing to turn off a device when required, shall result in immediate confiscation of the device. Any judicial officer may order confiscation of a cellular telephone or wireless communications device. Any United States marshal or deputy marshal or court security officer may also confiscate such a device. The U.S. Marshals Service shall develop a procedure for handling and storing confiscated devices.
- Contempt of court - A violation of this rule may be punished as criminal contempt of court. A violation that disrupts a judicial proceeding may be punished by summary proceedings.
- Relief from confiscation of a device - An individual whose device has been confiscated may apply in writing no more than 14 days after confiscation for its return. The application shall be made to the judicial officer whose proceedings were disturbed by the violation, or, if there is no such judicial officer, to the Chief Judge. The judicial officer may grant or refuse the request. Confiscated devices that are not returned shall be disposed of in a manner directed by the Chief Judge. Nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit the judicial officer or his or her designee to return a device after the conclusion of a court matter.