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Monday, November 21, 2016

Ind. Court - 7th Circuit Judge Wood: Lower Word Limits Unnecessary

From a sample of Bloomberg BNA’s The United States Law Week, dated Nov. 17th, this interesting report by Melissa Heelan Stanzione that begins:

Nov. 16 — The new, reduced federal appellate brief word limit, effective Dec. 1, has split the circuits, perhaps because it “is a solution in search of a problem,” Chief Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit told Bloomberg BNA.

Seven circuit courts of appeals have decided to adopt the new rule, four have rejected the rule, and two others haven’t yet said whether they will adopt the rule.

Amended Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32(a)(7)(B) mandates that an appellate brief contains no more than 13,000 words, reduced from 14,000.

The “vast majority” of appellate briefs don’t present a problem because they are well below the word limit, Wood said.

This is why Wood spoke against the proposed decrease in March 2016 at the at the Judicial Conference of the United States, and why the Seventh Circuit opted out of adopting the amended FRAP 32.

Wood conducted an informal survey of the briefs filed in the Seventh Circuit in the past couple of years and concluded that about 85 percent were at or below 12,500 words.

“I think lawyers in the country are careful writers and they are trying to do their job as well as they can,” Wood said.

Lawyers “self-regulate,” meaning that they choose not to use “every last word that is authorized,” Wood said. This is why the Seventh Circuit is opting out of the new word limit, she said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 21, 2016 03:06 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions