Saturday, March 14, 2015

Federal appellate judges want to shorten the length of briefs, lawyers object.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has posted this story about the reaction by many appellate attorneys to a proposal that would reduce the word count on federal appellate briefs under the federal rules of appellate practice from 14,000 to 12,500. (Interestingly, my co-blogger Professor Sirico reported last month on a new study (and here) that supports the lawyers' objections to the proposed rule change insofar as the study found that longer briefs filed by appellants "strongly" correlates with success on appeal. However, the authors of the study cautioned against inferring that it is word count, rather than the complexity of the underlying issues which may require more thorough explanations, that explains the correlation).  Here's an excerpt from the post.  

Lawyers Object to Making Legal Briefs Briefer

. . . .

Lawyers who argue cases before the nation’s most influential courts are protesting a plan by the federal judiciary to shrink the size of briefs filed in appellate litigation . . . .


The proposal would pare back the word-count limit from 14,000 to a svelte 12,500. The idea has gotten a thumbs-down verdict from some lawyers who see it as a misguided attempt to curb their freedom of lengthy speech. But it won cheers from dozens of bleary-eyed appellate judges.


Judge Laurence Silberman, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has had it with the pages and pages of irrelevant facts and marginal arguments. “My colleagues all believe the briefs are too long now,” he said. “You get numb.”

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Continue reading here.


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