Tuesday, November 22, 2016

MS Word Magicians Beware: Amendments to the FRAP are Effective on December 1st!

Microsoft wordsmiths beware! The United States Supreme Court recently adopted significant revisions to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that will affect the format of every brief, motion and other document filed with the court.  Specifically, the new rules discard the page limits found in Rules 5, 21, 27, 35, and 40 in favor of word counts for petitions for permission to appeal and answers thereto, petitions for mandamus or other extraordinary writ and answers thereto, motions and responses and replies thereto, and rehearing and en banc filings.  Further, the new rules reduce the word limits for briefs based on the assumption that one page is equivalent to 260 words.  For example, the new rules reduce the word limit for appellate briefs (where no cross-appeal is involved) from 14,000 to 13,000 words.

The new rules also make significant changes to the rules outside of page and word limits.  For example, they eliminate the three day (mail) rule for documents served electronically.  Litigants thus can no longer add three days to their response deadlines for documents served electronically.  Additionally, the new rules add new provisions for filing amicus briefs in connection with requests for panel or en banc rehearings, clarify the rule regarding the timeliness of post-judgment motions, and they clarify inmate filing rules.

The proposed amendments become effective on December 1, 2016.  Every attorney with a federal appellate practice should review the proposed amendments before their effective date.  You can find them here: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/sites/ca6/files/documents/rules_procedures/2016%20FRAP%20Amendments%20Redline.pdf