Kvetch of the Day: the FSIA and the Clerks
Posted on March 29, 2017
Okay, here is my kvetch of the day. I have a new FSIA case in a district that does not hear many FSIA cases. Under the FSIA, a foreign sovereign has sixty days, rather than twenty-one days, to answer a complaint. The clerk issued the ordinary twenty-one day summons, which was expected. I spoke with a deputy clerk and asked for her office to issue a sixty-day summons, or to allow me to submit a form of a summons for her office to issue. FRCP 4(b) seems to say that that’s the right thing for me to do.
The answer I got: there is no procedure, under the CM/ECF electronic filing system that the Clerk’s Office uses, for issuance of any alternate forms of summonses. Hmm. I know from personal experience that this is not true of CM/ECF across the board. On many, many occasions, I have submitted alternate forms of summonses in the Bankruptcy Court where foreign service was an issue (because in an adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court, the ordinary summons requires an answer to be filed within thirty days after issuance of the summons, but FRBankrP 7012 provides a different time for service abroad). And while I have not previously had to deal with the issuance of a summons in an FSIA case, I know of many examples of sixty-day summonses in courts where FSIA cases are more common.
It seems to me that the Administrative Office of the US Courts ought to promulgate nationwide guidance for clerks, so that even clerks in districts that don’t get much FSIA business know what to do. Dot gov readers, let’s discuss offline! Others, I’m curious if you’ve had the same experience.