Friday, February 20, 2015

Should the word limit in appellate briefs be reduced?

There's a proposal to reduce the word limit from 14,000 to 12,500, and a lot of people aren't happy about it.

Here is the intro from Howard Bashman's (from How Appealing) comment against the rule:
The observation “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” properly appears to
inform this Committee’s approach to amending the Federal Rules of
Appellate Procedure. As the Committee’s draft minutes from its April 2014
meeting reflect, “Mr. Letter suggested [that] traditionally the Rules
Committees do not amend a rule unless there is a very good reason to do
I am submitting this public comment because in my view “a very
good reason” does not exist for reducing the FRAP principal brief word
count limit from 14,000 words to 12,500 words, nor should any of the
corresponding briefing word limits be reduced by that ratio.
As members of the Committee are aware, in addition to my own
appellate practice, I devote a substantial amount of my time to drawing
public attention to the very best examples of appellate advocacy. In my
own writings, both on my widely read appellate blog and in my monthly
columns published in The Legal Intelligencer, I have repeatedly urged
attorneys who brief and argue appeals to strive for concision and to pursue
the fewest and strongest issues possible.


Anonymous said...

If you can't win in 12,500, you won't win with 14,000.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bashman is right. An advocate should strive to be concise. His verbose comment, however, illustrates his inability to heed his own advice. He probably wouldn't recognize good (appellate) writing if it smacked him in his face.

Anonymous said...

Forget the word limit, they should get rid of the ridiculous appendices and copy requirements. Should file the damn things online. Fully paperless.

Anonymous said...

As an appellate attorney, if I can say it in 14,000, I can say it in 12,500

Bob Becerra said...

Wasn't Justice Roberts who said that he never read a brief and then thought, "ahh, if only it was longer".