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Lanieka N. Wise v. Michael J. Astrue

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 21, 2012

LANIEKA N. WISE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER ALLOWING DEFENDANT TO FILE AN UNTIMELY RESPONSIVE BRIEF AND MODIFYING THE BRIEFING SCHEDULE (Docs. 17, 18)

I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 14, 2012, the Court granted the parties' stipulation and proposed order for an extension of time allowing Defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant") to file a responsive brief. (Doc. 16.) Pursuant to the Court's order, Defendant's responsive brief was due on or before March 9, 2012. (Doc. 16, 2:18.) Defendant did not file a responsive brief by that deadline.

On March 20, 2012, the parties filed a stipulation and proposed order requesting that Defendant be granted a second extension of time to file a responsive brief. (Doc. 17.) The parties did not address the issue that Defendant's brief had been due eleven (11) days earlier, but simply requested an extension to April 9, 2012. (Doc. 17.)

The next day, on March 21, 2012, Defendant filed a responsive brief. (Doc. 18.) The Court had not yet ruled on the parties' stipulation and proposed order requesting an extension of time to allow Defendant to file a responsive brief. (Doc. 17.) Additionally, Defendant had not sought permission from the Court to file an untimely brief.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court will accept the filing of Defendant's untimely responsive brief but cautions counsel that continued noncompliance with Court orders and rules will be met with extreme disfavor and may be grounds for the imposition of any and all sanctions authorized by statute, rule, or within the inherent power of the Court.

II. DISCUSSION

On February 14, 2012, the Court ordered that Defendant's responsive brief was due on or before March 9, 2012. (Doc. 16, 2:18.) Defendant did not file a brief by that deadline, but instead requested an extension of time on March 21, 2012 -- eleven (11) days after the brief was due.

The Local Rules of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Rule 144(d) provides as follows: "Counsel shall seek to obtain a necessary extension . . . as soon as the need for an extension becomes apparent. Requests for Court-approved extensions brought on the required filing date for the pleading or other document are looked upon with disfavor." As such, the parties' request on March 20, 2012, for an extension of time (Doc. 17), filed eleven (11) days after the responsive brief was due on March 9, 2012, fails to comply with the Local Rules. Further, Defendant's untimely filing of the responsive brief (Doc. 18) on March 21, 2012, twelve (12) days after the Court ordered deadline of March 9, 2012, is also improper as Defendant failed to obtain permission from the Court to file a late brief.

The Court recognizes, however, pursuant to the stipulation of the parties, that Defendant's counsel was impacted by her workload and the "imminent office move" of the Social Security Regional Counsel's office. (Doc. 17, 2:24-3:2.) The Court further recognizes that the parties have agreed to and stipulated that Defendant may file a responsive prior to April 9, 2012. As such, in the interest of justice, the Court will exercise its discretion and accept the filing of Defendant's untimely responsive brief. (Doc. 18.) Plaintiff's reply brief is thus due on or before April 15, 2012. See Doc. 7, 2:27-3:2 (ordering that the reply brief shall be filed with the Court within 15 days after service of the respondent's brief).

Defendant's counsel is cautioned, however, that compliance with the Court's orders and the Local Rules is mandatory and not discretionary. Local Rule 110 provides that "[f]ailure of counsel or of a party to comply with these Rules or with any order of the Court may be grounds for imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions authorized by statute or Rule or within the inherent power of the Court." As such, counsel is advised that continued disregard for Court orders and rules shall be looked upon with extreme disfavor.

III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The Court will accept and consider Defendant's untimely filed responsive brief (Doc. 18); and

2. Plaintiff may file a reply brief on or before April 15, 2012.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20120321

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