In a US federal court, assuming that the defendant, namely a US government official, failed to respond to a civil complaint within the 60-day period following the service of the compliant —

When filing a request for entry of default (NOT a motion for default judgment) against that US government defendant —

Does the plaintiff first need to serve the request on the defendant's attorney (i.e., the US attorney for the district), e.g. by certified mail, then obtain the return receipt, and only then file the request with the court together with the return receipt and a "certificate/proof of service"?

Or is it permitted to file the request for entry of default with the court AT THE SAME TIME of serving it on the defendant, and therefore the plaintiff may be able to file the proof of service with the court only after the entry of default was already executed by the clerk?

If only the former timeline is the permitted order of execution, then — does it not allow the defendant to hurry and try to file a response after the expiration of the 60-day deadline, and therefore prevent the entry of default which is mandated by Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a)?

Is this order of execution mandated by law, or is it just a matter of convention (different federal courts seem to insist on different timelines)?

  • Filing a response after the permitted time requires permission from the court, as I understand it, and is a matter of the discretion of the court, whether a formal entry of default has been filed or not. I don't have sources to hand on this, so this is not presented as a full answer. Sep 23, 2021 at 18:25
  • Is it actually required to do the process in the order I described in my OP? I.e. first serve the defendant's attorney with the request, get the proof of service, and only then file the request and the proof of service with the court?
    – rapt
    Sep 23, 2021 at 19:29


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