Part I: When is a Holiday Not a Holiday?

June 8, 2015

alarm clockThe Rules Calendaring product provides interactive rules information to practitioners so that they can avoid missing procedural deadlines.  For example, we offer a rules set for the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure which includes all relevant time deadlines contained in those rules.  Practitioners rely on the product in order to meet various practice deadlines like filing an appeal, complying with discovery demands, etc.

Rule 6 of the West Virginia RCP explains how to compute periods of time stated in the rules and applicable statutes.  As with most time computation rules, Rule 6 includes special provisions for counting days that are Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.  One provision states that if a prescribed period of time is fewer than 11 days, days that are Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays are to be excluded from time computations.  Another provision states that if the last day of a time computation is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then the last day is extended to the first day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Thus, for instance, if we were counting forward to the last day of a 20-day time period, and that last day would fall on a Saturday, the rules dictate that the last day should adjust forward to the following Monday… and thus that Monday would be the true deadline to perform the requirement stated in the 20-day rule.  But, if the Monday in that example is a holiday, then the deadline must adjust again to the following Tuesday (23 calendar days after the event that triggered the 20-day deadline)!

In many time computation rules, the word “holiday” is not defined and the practitioner is required to do a little research to find out what are and what are not holidays for counting purposes.  The time computation rule in West Virginia is more helpful than most in that regard, as it has a provision defining “holiday.”  It states the following:

“As used in this rule … “legal holiday” includes New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, West Virginia Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, any day on which a general, special or primary election is held in the state or in the county in which the circuit court sits, and any other day appointed as a holiday by the Governor or by the President of the United States….”

In addition to the time computation rule, West Virginia – like most states – has a statute that lists the official holidays adopted by the state legislature.  That statute has a very similar but slightly different list of holidays.  Here are a few of the differences:

(a) The following days are legal holidays:

(3) The third Monday of February is “Presidents’ Day”;

(11) The day after Thanksgiving Day is “Lincoln’s Day”;

(14) General election day on even years shall be designated Susan B. Anthony Day, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b), section one-a of this article

The statute and the rule read essentially the same, but there are a few differences.  The rule lists Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday as legal holidays, but the statute lists Presidents’ Day and Lincoln’s Day instead.  The statute also gives specific dates for the holidays, while the rule does not.  Importantly, the statute designates the third Monday of February as President’s Day and the day after Thanksgiving as Lincoln’s Day (neither of these dates match up with the historical birthdays of Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, by the way).  The question thus arises, for purposes of identifying holidays for computing time deadlines, does the rule govern or does the statute govern?  Are Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday holidays, or are President’s Day and Lincoln’s Day holidays?  We’ll explore this calendar conundrum in a future post.

The author would like to thank Cole Foster for his contributions to this post.

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