Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Litigants fight over font size in federal court briefs

In a voter's right case presently being heard in a D.C. federal court, the Department of Justice has argued that the government has been prejudiced by the opponent's use of 12 point font which allowed it to squeeze in additional arguments in spite of the court's 50 page brief limit. Quoting from DOJ's motion to strike the state of South Carolina's brief for using the wrong font:

Defendants, United States of America and Eric H. Holder, Jr. (collectively, "the United States"), hereby move to strike South Carolina's [filing] on the grounds that the filing is not in compliance with the font size and page limit requirements previously outlined by the Court. See ECF No. 64 at 3 ("All text shall be double-spaced and in thirteen point Times New Roman, and margins shall be set at one inch.").... South Carolina's [filing] appear[s] to have been filed in 11.5 or 12-point font, using the maximum page limit of 50 pages. The United States and Defendant-Intervenors, likewise, used their maximum page limits; however, they each adhered to the 13-point requirement. Hence, South Carolina's brief, if properly formatted, would have exceeded its page limit by at least 8 or 10 pages.

Being required to respond at a page-length disadvantage of approximately 20% is extremely prejudicial to the United States.

You can read a good summary of the dispute at Lowering the Bar and here at Law.com.  See, students?  Adhering to formatting guidelines by using the required font and margins really does matter in practice; it isn't just law school busy-work.

Hat tip to the Law Librarian blog.



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