This letter is written in response to and in opposition to the Jan. 18, 2021 Editorial Advisory Board position that the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure should be amended to provide for a reply memorandum.
There was a proposed amendment to Rule 2-311 to allow a reply, which was part of the Rules Committee’s 174th Report dated July 26, 2012. By rules order dated Nov. 1, 2012, the Court of Appeals rejected the proposed amendment. That order was published in the Maryland Register on November 26, 2012, upon information furnished to me from Sandra Haines, Esq., reporter to the Rules Committee.
I appeared before the Court of Appeals in 2012 to oppose the proposed rule change. My recollection is that the Conference of Circuit Court Judges also opposed the proposed rule. Thus, it continues to be up to the discretion of each judge reviewing a motion and a response to determine whether to accept a reply filed, without leave granted to file a reply. On the average of two-four times a month I have asked for a reply upon reviewing a motion and a response.
There remains Rule 2-311 providing for a motion and response, and Rule 2-342 providing for the procedure to ask for leave to amend any paper. Rule 2-342 means to me that a brief paper would be filed asking for leave to reply, which paper would earmark the issues in the response sought to be addressed. The trial court would be able to respond to the request for leave. Respectfully, I disagree with the characterization in the Editorial Advisory Board opinion that there are unpublished local rules, because it seems to me that Rule 2-311 and Rule 2-342 are omnipresent.
My experience has been that the vast majority of what is submitted as a “reply” is a “repeat” and not a reply, or what is submitted is not otherwise usually all that helpful to any disposition I would make. Litigants should avail themselves of the provisions of Rule 2-342 by filing a brief paper asking for leave to file a reply if a litigant wants to do so, and then the trial court can determine whether to allow a reply and what conditions, if any, should be placed on a reply allowed.
John F. Fader II, senior judge, Baltimore County Circuit Court