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Keep It Brief: Supreme Court Trims Length of Reply Briefs

Supremect The U.S. Supreme Court announced last month that under new rules taking effect Feb. 16, all reply briefs filed with the Court must fit under the 140 character limit of Twitter. Actually, it did not say that, but the Court is moving in that direction, as its new rules require lawyers to keep their reply briefs at the merits stage to 6,000 words instead of the previous limit of 7,500.

The Court's new 6,000-word limit for reply briefs was discussed in this post by Tony Mauro on the Blog of the Legal Times. In an explanatory comment on the change, the clerk of the Court said the Court was returning to a length close to what it had required in earlier years when it used page limits rather than word limits. The clerk explained that “[e]xperience has shown that the increased volume limit has allowed for the filing of some briefs that repeat previous arguments rather than address only new material presented in intervening briefs.”

Mauro reports that some practitioners believe shaving 1,500 words off of their replies will be difficult due to the growth in the number of amicus briefs that are now filed. Mayer Brown partner Evan Tager said he was "disappointed by the reversion to a shorter reply brief. Given the explosion of amicus practice, it is very difficult to respond adequately to both the respondent's brief and those of the respondents' amici in the more limited number of words.” Others like Deanne Maynard of Morrison & Foerster, however, rationalized that a "pithy" 6,000-word brief might be more effective anyway.

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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