On Writing Concisely – Part 2 (Updated)

I think you’ve hit a nerve when Judge Kozinski takes the time to write a dissenting opinion from an order granting your motion to file an oversized supplemental brief.  After the moving party filed an opening and reply brief, had two amicus briefs filed in support, and apparently made a successful joint motion for supplemental briefing in which he explicitly agreed to abide by the 14,000 word limit imposed by Fed. R. App. P. 32, an additional motion asking for leave to file an oversized brief of 15,500 words is apparently more than Judge Kozinski is willing to take.  He concludes (link added):

Not only do we abet the flouting of our rules, which must be discomfiting to those lawyers who abide by them, we also do a disservice to the litigants.  See Ruggero J. Aldisert, Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs and Oral Argument 231 (2d ed. 2003) (“All the judges quoted in this book have one bit of advice in common: emphasize the muscle of your brief and cut out the flab.”); see also id. at 234 (“The poorest, least persuasive briefs are all too often those that the lawyer has not taken the time to reduce to its essence.” (quoting Chief Judge John M. Walker, Jr.)).  Here, tightening up petitioner’s brief to conform to our rules would not only help conserve judicial resources and promote respect for our rules, it would better serve the client.

Following up on this post.

Update (5/22/07):  Decision of the Day weighs in with this post (which I highly recommend for its witty writing), believing that Judge Kozinski’s dissent is likely to defeat its purpose, and actually encourage overly long briefs, because it brings attention to a lenient order few were otherwise likely to notice.  But I suspect that any lawyer who knows that Judge Kozinski will participate in deciding a similar motion will think twice.

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Posted in Writing. 1 Comment »

One Response to “On Writing Concisely – Part 2 (Updated)”

  1. partyofthefirstpart Says:

    The battle against over-long briefs goes way back. In 1596, an English lawyer named Richard Mylward submitted a 120-page brief to a London Court (and this before word processing!). The judge ordered that a hole be cut in the middle of the brief and that Richard’s head be put through it. Mylward was then paraded around Westminster Hall with the brief flopping about his shoulders.

    For more adventures in legalese, see http://thepartyofthefirstpart.blogspot.com/


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