In his classic work on greed in the 1980’s, Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe summed-up the New York code of ethics: “What goes around comes around.” A deposit in the “favor bank,” Wolfe suggested, is like money; it may be withdrawn when needed. But what about requests for extensions of time to answer complaints — are they deposits in the favor bank? The answer depends on where you are.
In New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, requests for modest extensions are routine. Generally speaking, such requests are not viewed as favors; they are deemed (to change metaphors) par for the course. In other parts of the country, however, defense lawyers are reluctant to ask for extensions, reasoning that a favor granted necessarily results in a favor that must be returned.
Unless the extension is conditioned upon waiving a right (such as moving against the complaint or contesting personal jurisdiction), 15-30 day extensions are granted and accepted as a matter of routine. In fact, a refusal to grant a reasonable request, if the issue later arises in court, is viewed as a breach of “civility,” a sin in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Also, under the local procedural codes of some federal and state courts, brief extensions must be granted as a matter of right. The moral of this note: Know the ethics and local procedural code of your jurisdiction.
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