How Appealing


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

More FRAP word count-related reader email: A reader emails:
As a long-time federal law clerk, I agree that further "word length" restrictions are mostly a solution in search of a problem.

If one side's brief rambled on too long without telling me what I needed to know, I set it aside for the moment and let the opposing party's brief educate me about the case.

Sort of a 'free market'' solution to the problem, which may be what Judge Easterbrook is advocating

Beware also of unintended consequences. For example, further restricting word counts may encourage solicitation of more "amicus" briefs, to develop matters not covered as fully in the briefs of the parties.

(To truly reduce useless reading, we could start by shortening some interminable judicial opinions. Oh wait.... every sentence and footnote in there is essential. I see, Your Honor.)

The comment from Seventh Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook to which I assume my correspondent is referring can be accessed here.
Posted at 10:52 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Judge Damon Keith's legacy looms large": The Detroit News has this report.
Posted at 10:46 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"How Obamacare Supporters Are Plotting To Win Over Anthony Kennedy": Sahil Kapur of TPM DC has this report.
Posted at 10:44 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Illinois Supreme Court justice draws fire in tobacco case": Crain's Chicago Business today has an article that begins, "As the Illinois Supreme Court prepares to hear a $10.1 billion appeal by the parent company of Philip Morris USA, new questions are emerging about the impartiality of a key justice."
Posted at 11:03 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Judge Deno Himonas gets nod from Senate committee for Utah Supreme Court": Pamela Manson of The Salt Lake Tribune has this news update. According to the article, "If approved, Himonas, who is Greek Orthodox, would be the only non-Mormon on the Supreme Court."
Posted at 10:57 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Powder found at Supreme Court building not hazardous": The Tennessean has this news update.
Posted at 10:52 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Conflicts Mount Between State and Federal Courts; Strife in Alabama Comes as State Jurists Increasingly Ignore Opinions by U.S. Judges": Joe Palazzolo will have this article -- perhaps inspired at least in part by a post that appeared earlier today at "How Appealing" -- in Wednesday's edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Posted at 10:25 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"'Jersey Boys' Lawsuit Back On After Appeals Court Parses Meaning of a Biography; A two-decade-old unpublished autobiography is causing trouble for producers of 'Jersey Boys'": Eriq Gardner has this post today at the "Hollywood, Esq." blog of The Hollywood Reporter.

And The Associated Press reports that "Court revives copyright lawsuit against singer Frankie Valli."

My earlier coverage of today's Ninth Circuit ruling appears at this link.
Posted at 09:30 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"2nd Circ. Revives Applebee's Workers' Wage-And-Hour Suit": Law360.com has this report (subscription required for full access).

My earlier coverage of today's Second Circuit ruling appears in the first paragraph of this post.
Posted at 09:16 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Patent licenser Helferich wins court round against New York Times, others": Diane Bartz of Reuters has this report.

And Law360.com reports that "Fed. Circ. Restores NY Times Mobile Alert Patent Row" (subscription required for full access).

My earlier coverage of today's Federal Circuit ruling appears at this link.
Posted at 09:14 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"US court allows 'sewer service' debt collection class action": Jonathan Stempel of Reuters has this report.

The Associated Press reports that "NY federal appeals court OKs class for debt collection suits."

And Courthouse News Service reports that "'Sewer Service' Classes Upheld by 2nd Circuit."

My earlier coverage of today's Second Circuit ruling appears in the second paragraph of this post.
Posted at 08:36 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Who is Roy Moore? The judge at the center of Alabama's muddled gay marriage situation." The Washington Post has this report.

And AL.com editorial cartoonist J.D. Crowe asks "Should Roy Moore be vaccinated against same-sex marriage?"
Posted at 05:44 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Some reader input on the proposed FRAP briefing word limit reduction: Charles Roth, Director of Litigation, National Immigrant Justice Center has submitted this comment via the official comment system, where apparently it is in the queue awaiting approval and public access.

And a longtime reader of this blog who self-describes as "a practicing attorney, whose primary practice is writing briefs in district court and occasionally in appellate court" offers the following comments:

I am not persuaded that the fact that 4 excellent attorneys write briefs of almost 14,000 words means that is the right limit.

That is like saying that baseball games should be 9 innings long or football games should be 60 minutes long because the best baseball and football players play in games of that length. Or maybe it it like saying that a basketball hoop should be 10 feet high because that is what the best basketball players play with.

To be persuasive, you need to show that having the suggested word limits would reduce the quality of the briefs. Without doing so, you are also making the point that word limits should be discarded altogether, because if Paul Clement and Miguel Estrada were able to draft a 200,000 word brief, it would be the best written, ever. But, you know what, if the basketball hoop were lowered to 8 feet, there would be more people who could dunk the ball.

Were I to chime in on the subject, I would point out that mandatory portions of the brief, i.e., jurisdictional statement, which normally do not matter much (on occasion they do), count against the word limits.

I have a lot of empathy for appeals court judges in this matter. They have a ton of reading to do. If they can get the principle briefs down in size, perhaps they will be able have more time for other judge-related activities, i.e., writing decisions.

Until you have had to read some of the horrific briefs that are filed with the appellate courts, I don't know if you can ever be persuasive on this subject. Not every appellate attorney chooses to spend as much time on appellate brief-writing as you do.

This comment highlights an important issue -- namely, whether the rule change should be evaluated from the perspective of excellent appellate advocacy or the worst that appellate advocacy has to offer.

In my view, an indecipherable or utterly horrid 14,000-word brief does not necessarily require 10 percent more judicial attention than a 12,500-word brief of the same quality. But then I am willing to assume that when an especially talented appellate advocate opts to submit a brief whose word count falls between 12,500 and 14,000 words, a darn good reason existed for not submitting a shorter brief. Thus, I indeed am concerned that the rule change will prevent the most effective appellate advocates from doing the best possible job for their clients in cases sufficiently complex to require a brief whose word count falls between 12,500 and 14,000 words.
Posted at 05:11 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"At some federal courts, 'hear ye' remains hard to hear": Richard Wolf of USA Today has this report.
Posted at 04:54 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Congress plans budget for Fuller impeachment": Mary Troyan of The Montgomery Advertiser has this report.
Posted at 04:50 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How rife of a problem are unnecessarily long federal appellate briefs? Before I adjourn today's rants on this issue, I am pleased to provide readers of this blog with an interesting data point that will put this entire debate into context.

Aside from the counter-intuitive fact that appellate briefs that are unnecessarily long may actually make appeals in which they are filed easier to decide, it turns out that -- if data compiled by the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit are any indication -- the proposal under consideration to lower the word limits applicable to federal appellate briefs by more than 10 percent may be a solution in search of a problem.

According to the data -- at least as I understand it -- in the Eighth Circuit, a mere 15 percent of principal briefs longer than 30 pages contain between 12,500 and 14,000 words. Let's therefore assume that the rule change would affect the maximum size of briefs in only 10 to 15 percent of the cases, although the actual number may be even smaller than 10 percent.

Keeping in mind that the proposed word limit reduction would do nothing to eliminate unnecessarily lengthy appellate briefs that happen to remain under 12,500 words, and that some appellate briefs necessarily will fall between 12,500 and 14,000 words (as two of my posts from earlier today demonstrate, here and here), the question remains -- has a need for this rule change been established?
Posted at 04:10 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who are these irresponsible and unconstrained lawyers inflicting unnecessarily long briefs on the federal appellate courts? Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided a case captioned Helferich Patent Licensing, LLC v. The New York Times Co. You can access the ruling at this link. I will leave it up to my friends at the "Patently-O" blog to summarize this ruling should they deem it sufficiently worthy.

One thing that caught my eye about the case was the high profiles of many of the lead attorneys involved. Aaron M. Panner represented the plaintiff-appellant, which prevailed on appeal. And Daryl Joseffer was lead counsel for the defendants-appellees, submitting a brief in which Edward R. Reines joined.

For those keeping score at home, the Brief for Appellant contained 13,515 words, the Brief for Appellees contained 13,973 words, and the Reply Brief for Appellant contained 6,884 words. Each of these briefs is considerably in excess of the new word limits now under consideration for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Posted at 04:10 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In today's mail: I received a complimentary copy of "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg" (Scott Dodson, editor). Given the stellar list of contributors, I am very much looking forward to reading this book.
Posted at 03:10 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Judicial Conference Declines to Implement Same-Day Audio Standard for Appellate Arguments": The Coalition for Court Transparency has this blog post today.
Posted at 02:55 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Argument Recap: The Critical Difference in How al-Nashiri Loses." Steve Vladeck has this post today at the "Lawfare" blog.

You can access via this link the audio of today's oral argument before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (28.4 MB mp3 audio file).
Posted at 02:50 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Judge Allows SiriusXM to Appeal Big Ruling Over Pre-1972 Music; The issue of whether copyrights to older sound recordings like ones owned by The Turtles protect against unauthorized public performance is now headed to a high-stakes showdown at the 2nd Circuit": Eriq Gardner has this post today at the "Hollywood, Esq." blog of The Hollywood Reporter.
Posted at 02:47 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ninth Circuit reverses in "Jersey Boys" copyright infringement summary judgment appeal: You can access today's ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit at this link.
Posted at 01:55 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"This King has no clothes: How the case against the ACA is unraveling before our eyes." Joey Meyer and Brianne Gorod have this essay online today at the Constitutional Accountability Center.
Posted at 01:38 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"We hold that Comcast does not mandate that certification pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3) requires a finding that damages are capable of measurement on a classwide basis." You can access today's ruling of a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit at this link.

The Second Circuit today also issued a separate ruling affirming by a vote of 2-to-1 class certification in an appeal in which Paul D. Clement and Miguel A. Estrada represented different groups of defendants-appellants. The opening brief that Clement filed on behalf of his clients contained 13,758 words according to its certificate of compliance. And the opening brief that Estrada filed on behalf of his clients contained 13,975 words according to its certificate of compliance. [Yes, I have just invested $7.40 cents ($3 per brief plus $1.40 for docket access) to demonstrate that even the most highly regarded, experienced appellate advocates sometimes find it necessary to file principal briefs in a federal appellate court that exceed 12,500 words, the proposed new maximum word limit.]
Posted at 01:26 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"A House Divided: When State and Lower Federal Courts Disagree on Federal Constitutional Rights." Law professor Wayne A. Logan posted this article last month online at SSRN.
Posted at 01:04 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"The Moment for Marriage in Alabama": Amy Davidson had this post online yesterday at The New Yorker.
Posted at 12:56 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"How Atypical Cases Make Bad Rules: A Commentary on the Rulemaking Process." Law professor Suja A. Thomas and Dawson Price have this paper online at SSRN.
Posted at 12:18 PM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Teacher who humiliated student can keep job, court rules": Peter Hall has this front page article in today's edition of The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Sara K. Satullo of The Express-Times of Easton, Pennsylvania reports that "Pennsylvania court blocks firing of teacher that allegedly hung 'I abuse animals' sign on student." Satullo also provided earlier coverage of the case in an article headlined "School officials fight to fire teacher who hung 'I abuse animals' sign around disabled student's neck."

Matt Miller of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania reports that "School can't fire teacher who put 'I Abuse Animals' sign on autistic student, court rules."

And The Associated Press has a report headlined "Court: Rehire teacher who put 'I abuse animals' sign on boy."

You can access yesterday's unpublished ruling of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at this link.
Posted at 11:13 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Paying $540,000 for a 37-cent stamp: The "Federal Eye" blog of The Washington Post today has a post titled "Court upholds $540,000 judgment against USPS for Korean War stamp" about a ruling that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued last Wednesday.
Posted at 10:58 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Judge battles evaluators over recommendation to state Supreme Court": Chris Mondics has this article in today's edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

And The Centre Daily Times reports that "Judge Anne Covey suggests conflict of interest by Penn State trustee Keith Eckel."

My earlier coverage can be accessed here.
Posted at 08:27 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"After a delay, Cuomo gets his court": Capital New York today has an article that begins, "The state's highest court returned to full strength on Monday after the State Senate confirmed two of Governor Andrew Cuomo's nominees, giving the governor a majority of appointments to the court."
Posted at 08:21 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"For Alabama Chief Justice, Soldiering in Name of God Is Nothing New": Richard Fausset has this article in today's edition of The New York Times.
Posted at 08:17 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Supreme Court to hear from thousands on gay marriage": Richard Wolf of USA Today has this report.
Posted at 08:12 AM by Howard Bashman




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Constitutional Law with Justice Ginsburg: Michigan Students Engage with Supreme Court Legend." The University of Michigan Law School has this report.
Posted at 08:02 AM by Howard Bashman




Monday, February 9, 2015

"New Questions Swirl on an Affordable Care Act Challenger; Plaintiff Listed Motel as Her Address, Which Was Basis for Her Legal Grounds": Louise Radnofsky and Brent Kendall will have this article in Tuesday's edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Posted at 11:59 PM by Howard Bashman



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