(As amended Apr. 30, 1979, eff. Aug. 1, 1979; Apr. 29, 1994, eff. Dec. 1, 1994; Apr. 24, 1998, eff. Dec. 1, 1998; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1967

This is the usual rule among the circuits, except that the express prohibition against filing a reply to the petition is found only in the rules of the Fourth, Sixth and Eighth Circuits (it is also contained in Supreme Court Rule 58 (3)). It is included to save time and expense to the party victorious on appeal. In the very rare instances in which a reply is useful, the court will ask for it.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1979 Amendment

Subdivision (a). The Standing Committee added to the first sentence of Rule 40 (a) the words “or by local rule,” to conform to current practice in the circuits. The Standing Committee believes the change noncontroversial.
Subdivision (b). The proposed amendment would eliminate the distinction drawn in the present rule between printed briefs and those duplicated from typewritten pages in fixing their maximum length. See Note to Rule 28. Since petitions for rehearing must be prepared in a short time, making typographic printing less likely, the maximum number of pages is fixed at 15, the figure used in the present rule for petitions duplicated by means other than typographic printing.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1994 Amendment

Subdivision (a). The amendment lengthens the time for filing a petition for rehearing from 14 to 45 days in civil cases involving the United States or its agencies or officers. It has no effect upon the time for filing in criminal cases. The amendment makes nation-wide the current practice in the District of Columbia and the Tenth Circuits, see D.C. Cir. R. 15(a), 10th Cir. R. 40.3. This amendment, analogous to the provision in Rule 4 (a) extending the time for filing a notice of appeal in cases involving the United States, recognizes that the Solicitor General needs time to conduct a thorough review of the merits of a case before requesting a rehearing. In a case in which a court of appeals believes it necessary to restrict the time for filing a rehearing petition, the amendment provides that the court may do so by order. Although the first sentence of Rule 40 permits a court of appeals to shorten or lengthen the usual 14 day filing period by order or by local rule, the sentence governing appeals in civil cases involving the United States purposely limits a court’s power to alter the 45 day period to orders in specific cases. If a court of appeals could adopt a local rule shortening the time for filing a petition for rehearing in all cases involving the United States, the purpose of the amendment would be defeated.

Committee Notes on Rules—1998 Amendment

The language and organization of the rule are amended to make the rule more easily understood. In addition to changes made to improve the understanding, the Advisory Committee has changed language to make style and terminology consistent throughout the appellate rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

Subdivision (a)(1). Rule 40 (a)(1) has been amended to make clear that the 45-day period to file a petition for panel rehearing applies in cases in which an officer or employee of the United States is sued in an individual capacity for acts or omissions occurring in connection with duties performed on behalf of the United States. (A concurrent amendment to Rule 4 (a)(1)(B) makes clear that the 60-day period to file an appeal also applies in such cases.) In such cases, the Solicitor General needs adequate time to review the merits of the panel decision and decide whether to seek rehearing, just as the Solicitor General does when an appeal involves the United States, a United States agency, or a United States officer or employee sued in an official capacity.
To promote clarity of application, the amendment to Rule 40 (a)(1) includes safe harbor provisions that parties can readily apply and rely upon. Under new subdivision 40(a)(1)(D), a case automatically qualifies for the 45-day period if (1) a legal officer of the United States has appeared in the case, in an official capacity, as counsel for the current or former officer or employee and has not withdrawn the appearance at the time of the entry of the court of appeals’ judgment that is the subject of the petition or (2) a legal officer of the United States appears on the petition as counsel, in an official capacity, for the current or former officer or employee. There will be cases that do not fall within either safe harbor but that qualify for the longer petition period. An example would be a case in which a federal employee is sued in an individual capacity for an act occurring in connection with federal duties and the United States does not represent the employee either when the court of appeals’ judgment is entered or when the petition is filed but the United States pays for private counsel for the employee.
Changes Made After Publication and Comment. The Committee made two changes to the proposal after publication and comment.
First, the Committee inserted the words “current or former” before “United States officer or employee.” This insertion causes the text of the proposed Rule to diverge slightly from that of Civil Rules 4 (i)(3) and 12 (a)(3), which refer simply to “a United States officer or employee [etc.].” This divergence, though, is only stylistic. The 2000 Committee Notes to Civil Rules 4 (i)(3) and 12 (a)(3) make clear that those rules are intended to encompass former as well as current officers or employees.
Second, the Committee added, at the end of Rule 40 (a)(l)(D), the following new language: “—including all instances in which the United States represents that person when the court of appeals’ judgment is entered or files the petition for that person.” During the public comment period, concerns were raised that a party might rely on the longer period for filing the petition, only to risk the petition being held untimely by a court that later concluded that the relevant act or omission had not actually occurred in connection with federal duties. The Committee decided to respond to this concern by adding two safe harbor provisions. These provisions make clear that the longer period applies in any ease where the United States either represents the officer or employee at the time of entry of the relevant judgment or files the petition on the officer or employee’s behalf.