Rule 49. Serving and Filing Papers

(a) Service on a Party.

(1) What is Required. Each of the following must be served on every party: any written motion (other than one to be heard ex parte), written notice, designation of the record on appeal, or similar paper.

(2) Serving a Party's Attorney. Unless the court orders otherwise, when these rules or a court order requires or permits service on a party represented by an attorney, service must be made on the attorney instead of the party.

(3) Service by Electronic Means.

(A) Using the Court's Electronic-Filing System. A party represented by an attorney may serve a paper on a registered user by filing it with the court’s electronic-filing system. A party not represented by an attorney may do so only if allowed by court order or local rule.  Service is complete upon filing, but is not effective if the serving party learns that it did not reach the person to be served.  

(B) Using Other Electronic Means. A paper may be served by any other electronic means that the person consented to in writing.  Service is complete upon transmission, but is not effective if the serving party learns that it did not reach the person to be served. 

(4) Service by Nonelectronic Means. A paper may be served by;

(A) handing it to the person;

(B) leaving it:

(i) at the person's office with a clerk or other person in charge or, if no one is in charge, in a conspicuous place in the office or;

(ii) if the person has no office or the office is closed, at the person's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there;

(C) mailing it to the person's last known address—in which event service is complete upon mailing;

(D) leaving it with the court clerk if the person has no known address; or

(E) delivering it by any other means that the person consented to in writing—in which event service is complete when the person making service delivers it to the agency designated to make delivery.

(b) Filing.

(1) When required: Certificate of Service. Any paper that is required to be served must be filed no later than a reasonable time after service.  No certificate of service is required when a paper is served by filing it with the court’s electronic-filing system.  When a paper is served by other means, a certificate of service must be filed with it or within a reasonable time after service or filing. 

(2) Means of Filing.

(A) Electronically. A paper is filed electronically by filing it with the court’s electronic-filing system.  A filing made through a person’s electronic-filing account and authorized by that person, together with the person’s name on a signature block, constitutes the person’s signature.  A paper filed electronically is written or in writing under these rules. 

(B) Nonelectronically. A paper not filed electronically is filed by delivering it:

(i) to the clerk; or

(ii) to a judge who agrees to accept it for filing, and who must then note the filing date on the paper and promptly send it to the clerk.

(3) Means Used by Represented and Unrepresented Parties.

(A) Represented Party. A party represented by an attorney must file electronically, unless nonelectronic filing is allowed by the court for good cause or is allowed or required by local rule. 

(B) Unrepresented Party. A party not represented by an attorney must file nonelectronically, unless allowed to file electronically by court order or local rule.

(4) Signature. Every written motion and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name—or by a person filing a paper if the person is not represented by an attorney.  The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit.  The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or person’s attention. 

(5) Acceptance by the Clerk. The clerk must not refuse to file a paper solely because it is not in the form prescribed by these rules or by a local rule or practice.

(c) Service and Filing by Nonparties. A nonparty may serve and file a paper only if doing so is required or permitted by law.  A nonparty must serve every party as required by Rule 49(a), but may use the court’s electronic-filing system only if allowed by court order or local rule. 

(d) Notice of a Court Order. When the court issues an order on any post-arraignment motion, the clerk must serve notice of the entry on each party as required by Rule 49(a). A party may also serve notice of the entry by the same means. Except as Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 (b) provides otherwise, the clerk's failure to give notice does not affect the time to appeal, or relieve—or authorize the court to relieve—a party's failure to appeal within the allowed time.

 

(As amended Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; Dec. 4, 1967, eff. July 1, 1968; Apr. 29, 1985, eff. Aug. 1, 1985; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 22, 1993, eff. Dec. 1, 1993; Apr. 27, 1995, eff. Dec. 1, 1995; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944

Note to Subdivision (a). This rule is substantially the same as Rule 5(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix] with such adaptations as are necessary for criminal cases.

Note to Subdivision (b). The first sentence of this rule is in substance the same as the first sentence of Rule 5(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix]. The second sentence incorporates by reference the second and third sentences of Rule 5(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Note to Subdivision (c). This rule is an adaptation for criminal proceedings of Rule 77(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix]. No consequence attaches to the failure of the clerk to give the prescribed notice, but in a case in which the losing party in reliance on the clerk's obligation to send a notice failed to file a timely notice of appeal, it was held competent for the trial judge, in the exercise of sound discretion, to vacate the judgment because of clerk's failure to give notice and to enter a new judgment, the term of court not having expired. Hill v. Hawes, 320 U.S. 520.

Note to Subdivision (d). This rule incorporates by reference Rule 5(d) and (e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix].

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1966 Amendment

Subdivision (a).—The words “adverse parties” in the original rule introduced a question of interpretation. When, for example, is a co-defendant an adverse party? The amendment requires service on each of the parties thus avoiding the problem of interpretation and promoting full exchange of information among the parties. No restriction is intended, however, upon agreements among co-defendants or between the defendants and the government restricting exchange of papers in the interest of eliminating unnecessary expense. Cf. the amendment made effective July 1, 1963, to Civil Rule 5(a).

Subdivision (c).—The words “affected thereby” are deleted in order to require notice to all parties. Cf. the similar change made effective July 1, 1963, to Civil Rule 77(d).

The sentence added at the end of the subdivision eliminates the possibility of extension of the time to appeal beyond the provision for a 30 day extension on a showing or “excusable neglect” provided in Rule 37(a)(2). Cf. the similar change made in Civil Rule 77(d) effective in 1948. The question has arisen in a number of cases whether failure or delay in giving notice on the part of the clerk results in an extension of the time for appeal. The “general rule” has been said to be that in the event of such failure or delay “the time for taking an appeal runs from the date of later actual notice or receipt of the clerk's notice rather than from the date of entry of the order.” Lohman v. United States, 237 F.2d 645, 646 (6th Cir. 1956). See also Rosenbloom v. United States, 355 U.S. 80 (1957) (permitting an extension). In two cases it has been held that no extension results from the failure to give notice of entry of judgments (as opposed to orders) since such notice is not required by Rule 49(d). Wilkinson v. United States, 278 F.2d 604 (10th Cir. 1960), cert. den. 363 U.S. 829; Hyche v. United States, 278 F.2d 915 (5th Cir. 1960), cert. den. 364 U.S. 881. The excusable neglect extension provision in Rule 37(a)(2) will cover most cases where failure of the clerk to give notice of judgments or orders has misled the defendant. No need appears for an indefinite extension without time limit beyond the 30 day period.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1968 Amendment

The amendment corrects the reference to Rule 37(a)(2), the pertinent provisions of which are contained in Rule 4(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1985 Amendment

18 U.S.C. §3575 (a) and 21 U.S.C. §849 (a), dealing respectively with dangerous special offender sentencing and dangerous special drug offender sentencing, provide for the prosecutor to file notice of such status “with the court” and for the court to “order the notice sealed” under specified circumstances, but also declare that disclosure of this notice shall not be made “to the presiding judge without the consent of the parties” before verdict or plea of guilty or nolo contendere. It has been noted that these provisions are “regrettably unclear as to where, in fact, such notice is to be filed” and that possibly filing with the chief judge is contemplated. United States v. Tramunti, 377 F.Supp. 6 (S.D.N.Y. 1974). But such practice has been a matter of dispute when the chief judge would otherwise have been the presiding judge in the case, United States v. Gaylor, No. 80–5016 (4th Cir. 1981), and “it does not solve the problem in those districts where there is only one federal district judge appointed,” United States v. Tramunti, supra.

The first sentence of subdivision (e) clarifies that the filing of such notice with the court is to be accomplished by filing with the clerk of the court, which is generally the procedure for filing with the court; see subdivision (d) of this rule. Except in a district having a single judge and no United States magistrate, the clerk will then, as provided in the second sentence, transmit the notice to the chief judge or to some other judge or a United States magistrate if the chief judge is scheduled to be the presiding judge in the case, so that the determination regarding sealing of the notice may be made without the disclosure prohibited by the aforementioned statutes. But in a district having a single judge and no United States magistrate this prohibition means the clerk may not disclose the notice to the court at all until the time specified by statute. The last sentence of subdivision (e) contemplates that in such instances the clerk will seal the notice if the case falls within the local rule describing when “a public record may prejudice fair consideration of a pending criminal matter,” the determination called for by the aforementioned statutes. The local rule might provide, for example, that the notice is to be sealed upon motion by any party.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1993 Amendment

The Rule is amended to conform to the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990 [P.L. 101–650, Title III, Section 321] which provides that each United States magistrate appointed under section 631 of title 28, United States Code, shall be known as a United States magistrate judge.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1995 Amendment

Subdivision (e) has been deleted because both of the statutory provisions cited in the rule have been abrogated.

Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 49 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.

Rule 49(c) has been amended to reflect proposed changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that permit (but do not require) a court to provide notice of its orders and judgments through electronic means. See Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 5 (b) and 77(d). As amended, Rule 49(c) now parallels a similar extant provision in Rule 49(b), regarding service of papers.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

Subdivision (e). Filing papers by electronic means is added as new subdivision (e), which is drawn from Civil Rule 5(d)(3). It makes it clear that a paper filed electronically in compliance with the Court’s local rule is a written paper.

Changes Made to Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment

No changes were made in the rule as published.

References in Text

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, referred to in subd. (c), are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.

Committee Notes - 2018 Amendments

Rule 49 previously required service and filing in a “manner provided” in “a civil action.”  The amendments to Rule 49 move the instructions for filing and service from the Civil Rules into Rule 49.  Placing instructions for filing and service in the criminal rule avoids the need to refer to two sets of rules, and permits independent development of those rules.  Except where specifically noted, the amendments are intended to carry over the existing law on filing and service and to preserve parallelism with the Civil Rules. 


Additionally, the amendments eliminate the provision permitting electronic filing only when authorized by local rules, moving—with the Rules governing Appellate, Civil, and Bankruptcy proceedings—to a national rule that mandates electronic filing for parties represented by an attorney with certain exceptions.  Electronic filing has matured.  Most districts have adopted local rules that require electronic filing by represented parties, and allow reasonable exceptions as required by the former rule.  The time has come to seize the advantages of electronic filing by making it mandatory in all districts for a party represented by an attorney, except that nonelectronic filing may be allowed by the court for good cause, or allowed or required by local rule. 


Rule 49(a)(1).  The language from former Rule 49(a) is retained in new Rule 49(a)(1), except for one change. The new phrase, “Each of the following must be served on every party” restores to this part of the rule the passive construction that it had prior to restyling in 2002.  That restyling revised the language to apply to parties only, inadvertently ending its application to nonparties who, on occasion, file motions in criminal cases.  Additional guidance for nonparties appears in new subdivision (c). 


Rule 49(a)(2).  The language from former Rule 49(b) concerning service on the attorney of a represented party is retained here, with the “unless” clause moved to the beginning for reasons of style only. 


Rule 49(a)(3) and (4).  Subsections (a)(3) and (4) list the permissible means of service.  These new provisions duplicate the description of permissible means from Civil Rule 5, carrying them into the criminal rule.   

By listing service by filing with the court’s electronic-filing system first, in (3)(A), the rule now recognizes the advantages of electronic filing and service and its widespread use in criminal cases by represented defendants and government attorneys.  


But the e-filing system is designed for attorneys, and its use can pose many challenges for pro se parties.  In the criminal context, the rules must ensure ready access to the courts by all pro se defendants and incarcerated individuals, filers who often lack reliable access to the internet or email. Although access to electronic-filing systems may expand with time, presently many districts do not allow e-filing by unrepresented defendants or prisoners.  Accordingly, subsection (3)(A) provides that represented parties may serve registered users by filing with the court’s electronic- filing system, but unrepresented parties may do so only if allowed by court order or local rule. 


Subparagraph (3)(B) permits service by “other electronic means,” such as email, that the person served consented to in writing. 


Both subparagraphs (3)(A) and (B) include the direction from Civil Rule 5 that service is complete upon e-filing or transmission, but is not effective if the serving party learns that the person to be served did not receive the notice of e-filing or the paper transmitted by other electronic means.  The language mirrors Civil Rule 5(b)(2)(E).  But unlike Civil Rule 5, Criminal Rule 49 contains a separate provision for service by use of the court’s electronic-filing system.  The rule does not make the court responsible for notifying a person who filed the paper with the court’s electronic-filing system that an attempted transmission by the court’s system failed.

 
Subsection (a)(4) lists a number of traditional, nonelectronic means of serving papers, identical to those provided in Civil Rule 5. 


Rule 49(b)(1).  Filing rules in former Rule 49 appeared in subdivision (d), which provided that a party must file a copy of any paper the party is required to serve, a nd required filing in a manner provided in a civil action. These requirements now appear in subdivision (b). 


The language requiring filing of papers that must be served is retained from former subdivision (d), but has been moved to subsection (1) of subdivision (b), and revised to restore the passive phrasing prior to the restyling in 2002. That restyling departed from the phrasing in Civil Rule 5(d)(1) and inadvertently limited this requirement to filing by parties. 


The language in former subdivision (d) that required filing “in a manner provided for in a civil action” has been replaced in new subsection (b)(1) by language drawn from Civil Rule 5(d)(1).  That provision used to state “Any paper . . . that is required to be served—together with a certificate of service—must be filed within a reasonable time after service.”  A contemporaneous amendment to Civil Rule 5(d)(1) has subdivided this provision into two parts, one of which addresses the Certificate of Service. Although the Criminal Rules version is not subdivided in the same way, it parallels the Civil Rules provision from which it was drawn.  Because “within” might be read as barring filing before the paper is served, “no later than” is substituted to ensure that it is proper to file a paper before it is served. 


The second sentence of subsection (b)(1), which states that no certificate of service is required when service is made using the court’s electronic-filing system, mirrors the contemporaneous amendment to Civil Rule 5.  When service is not made by filing with the court’s electronic-filing system, a certificate of service must be filed. 

Rule 49(b)(2).  New subsection (b)(2) lists the three ways papers can be filed.  (A) provides for electronic filing using the court’s electronic-filing system and includes a provision, drawn from the Civil Rule, stating that a filing made through a person’s electronic-filing account and authorized by that person, together with the person’s name on a signature block, constitutes the person’s signature.  The last sentence of subsection (b)(2)(A) contains the language of former Rule 49(e), providing that e-filed papers are “written or in writing,” deleting the words “in compliance with a local rule” as no longer necessary. 


Subsection (b)(2)(B) carries over from the Civil Rule two nonelectronic methods of filing a paper: delivery to the court clerk and delivery to a judge who agrees to accept it for filing. 


Rule 49(b)(3).  New subsection (b)(3) provides instructions for parties regarding the means of filing to be used, depending upon whether the party is represented by an attorney.  Subsection (b)(3)(A) requires represented parties to use the court’s electronic-filing system, but provides that nonelectronic filing may be allowed for good cause, and may be required or allowed for other reasons by local rule.  This language is identical to that adopted in the contemporaneous amendment to Civil Rule 5.  


Subsection (b)(3)(B) requires unrepresented parties to file nonelectronically, unless allowed to file electronically by court order or local rule.  This language differs from that of the amended Civil Rule, which provides that an unrepresented party may be “required” to file electronically by a court order or local rule that allows reasonable exceptions.  A different approach to electronic filing by unrepresented parties is needed in criminal cases, where electronic filing by pro se prisoners presents significant challenges.  Pro se parties filing papers under the criminal rules generally lack the means to e-file or receive electronic confirmations, yet must be provided access to the courts under the Constitution.  


Rule 49(b)(4).  This new language requiring a signature and additional information was drawn from Civil Rule 11(a).  The language has been restyled (with no intent to change the meaning) and the word “party” changed to “person” in order to accommodate filings by nonparties.

  
Rule 49(b)(5).  This new language prohibiting a clerk from refusing a filing for improper form was drawn from Civil Rule 5(d)(4). 


Rule 49(c).  This provision is new.  It recognizes that in limited circumstances nonparties may file motions in criminal cases.  Examples include representatives of the media challenging the closure of proceedings, material witnesses requesting to be deposed under Rule 15, or victims asserting rights under Rule 60.  Subdivision (c) permits nonparties to file a paper in a criminal case, but only when required or permitted by law to do so.  It also requires nonparties who file to serve every party and to use means authorized by subdivision (a). 


The rule provides that nonparties, like unrepresented parties, may use the court’s electronic-filing system only when permitted to do so by court order or local rule. 


Rule 49(d). This provision carries over the language formerly in Rule 49(c) with one change.  The former language requiring that notice be provided “in a manner provided for in a civil action” has been replaced by a requirement that notice be served as required by Rule 49(a).  This parallels Civil Rule 77(d)(1), which requires that the clerk give notice as provided in Civil Rule 5(b).