Ordinarily, it would not be newsworthy that a U.S. District Court allowed a brief that was filed 15 minutes late. But Judge R. David Proctor not only refused to strike the late-filed brief: he ruled that striking a brief just because it was filed 15 minutes late would be absurd.
In the District Court ruling in Whitworth v. Mezrano, 2:20-cv00756 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 13, 2023), available at Above the Law, Judge Proctor noted that “There are no doubt many other instances when 15 minutes could make a world of difference,” such as 15 minutes extra time presenting oral argument, or running a marathon, or making a departing flight. “But, the electronic filing of an opposition brief in this court on a late Thursday afternoon is not one of them.”
Judge Proctor then sketched out a parody chambers scene in a “parallel universe” in which idle court clerks expectantly scan the wires in the waning minutes approaching 5:00 p.m., breathlessly awaiting a litigant’s brief, whereupon they commit and resolve to devote their evening to “reading — no, consuming and cherishing — every syllable of this filing.”
“Only in such a distant, parallel universe,” Judge Proctor concludes, would striking the late-filed brief “make any sense.”
Upshot: Next time you need to seek leave to file a late brief, consider referencing Judge Proctor’s observation that filing a brief late by a matter of minutes could only make a difference in “a distant, parallel universe.”