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Section: Daily Dispatches

By Reginald H. Howe
March 9, 2001

Because there is some confusion over what is scheduled to happen in
U.S. District Court in Boston on March 15, and also because all
parties to the case have filed a joint motion with the court to
establish a slightly modified schedule, I am providing this status
report, which also should help to reduce somewhat my e-mail traffic.

The normal rules of procedure in federal district courts require a
defendant to file a written response to a complaint within a certain
time, which may vary depending on the type of defendant (e.g.,
domestic, foreign, government) and the manner of service.

Generally speaking, these responses may be of two types: 1) an answer
to the complaint, addressing by numbered paragraph each of its
allegations, and raising any other defenses or counterclaims; or 2) a
motion to dismiss, raising legal defenses that would prevent the
court from granting any relief, even assuming that the factual
allegations of the complaint are true.

Defendants who file motions to dismiss are not required to file
answers until after their motions to dismiss are heard and
determined. A motion to dismiss must be accompanied at the time of
filing by a brief supporting the motion and citing the legal
authorities therefore. When a motion to dismiss is filed, the
plaintiff is allowed time to file an opposition statement containing
reasons why the motion should not be allowed, why the defendant
should be required to answer, and why the the case should be allowed
to proceed.

It is quite normal for defendants in complex cases to request
extensions of time to respond, and just as normal for plaintiffs to
assent to these requests. This week all parties in my case, including
me, filed a joint motion with the court requesting that the various
defendants be allowed until the following dates to file their
responses: March 15 for the Secretary of the Treasury; March 30 for
all other defendants except William J. McDonough; and April 10 for
Mr. McDonough. In addition, the joint motion requests that the
plaintiff be allowed until April 30 to file his oppositions to any
motions to dismiss or to other defensive motions filed by the
defendants pursuant to the agreed schedule.

It is my expectation based on discussions with the attorneys for the
various defendants that all of them are planning to file motions to

Typically, after the filing of motions to dismiss and the oppositions
thereto, the court will set a hearing date for oral argument on the
motions. At the hearing, the court may rule on the motions, or parts
thereof, from the bench, but normally, especially in a complex case,
the court will take the motions under advisement and issue a written
ruling and opinion later.

Courts control their own schedules, which are affected by many
different considerations, so it is not possible to predict with much
precision likely dates for a hearing or a ruling. However, I will
continue to post periodic status reports as appropriate, and I am
working on arrangements to make available online all significant
court filings.

In any event, my own oppositions will be posted at, as will notice of any important court hearings.