Thursday, January 17, 2019

Words Count: Judge Easterbrook Issues Opinion Warning Litigants to Accurately Report the Word Cap Pursuant to FRAP 32

By Louis J. Manetti, Jr.
Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP

Judge Easterbrook recently issued a chambers opinion that reminds appellate litigants that not all software functions are equally useful for determining the word count for an appellate brief. In Vermillion v. Corizon Health, Inc., Judge Easterbrook was alerted to the case when the appellees moved for permission to file a brief in excess of the 14,000 word limit. 906 F.3d 696, 696 (7th Cir. 2018). The appellees explained that although the appellant had certified that his brief contained less than 14,000 words, it actually contained 16,850 words. Id. The appellees asked for leave to file a brief containing 408 words on top of that already-excessive sum. Id.
The Court confirmed that the appellant’s brief was, in fact, over the allowed word limit, struck the brief, and ordered the appellant to show cause why he shouldn’t be penalized for falsely certifying the word count. Id. In response, the appellant asked the Court to reinstate his brief because there were 15,315 words reported in the “Properties” tab of Microsoft Word. Id. He claimed that if the words expressed in Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32(f) were subtracted, and that, by his understanding, words in the brief citing “the record and appendix” were also excluded under the rule, he was under the word cap. Id. at 696-97.
Judge Easterbrook pointed out two problems with this claim. First, the “Properties” tab in the Word software does not give an accurate representation of the word count as the Seventh Circuit defines it. Id. at 697. That specific tab omits footnotes from the word count, and under Court rules footnotes count towards the total amount. Id. This alone amounted to over 1,000 words in the appellant’s brief. Id.
Second, Judge Easterbrook held that the appellant was misreading what kinds of words were excluded by Rule 32(f). The appellant argued that citations to the record and the appendix must not be included in the word count because they are not mentioned in Rule 32(f). Id. But Rule 32(f) is a list of exclusions: “Only those matters that are mentioned in Rule 32(f)’s list are excluded. Everything else counts.” Id. (emphasis in original).
In the end, Judge Easterbrook ordered the appellant to file a conforming brief, and noted that each party would be subject to the 14,000 word limit. Id. The case serves as a useful reminder that appellate litigants should take care to comply with the word limits imposed by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

"Cases Pending" Highlights Civil Cases to be Heard During Illinois Supreme Court's January Term

The Illinois Supreme Court's January Term will begin on Monday, January 14, 2019. The term will include oral argument in 7 civil cases and 6 criminal cases between January 15 and January 24. Below is a listing of the 7 civil cases that will be heard:


Wednesday, January 16, 2018:


Fillmore v. Taylor, No. 122626


Wednesday January 23, 2019:


Van Dyke v. White, No. 121452


People of the State of Illinois (County of Cook) v. Illinois Pollution Control Board, Nos. 122798, 122813 (cons.)


LMP Services v. City of Chicago, No. 123123


Doe v. Coe, No. 123521


Thursday January 24, 2019:


Roberts v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508, No. 123594


McCarthy v. Abraham Lincoln Reynolds Living Trust, No. 123622


Below is a summary of one of the civil cases to be argued. As always, more information about all pending criminal and civil cases is available in the ALA's Cases Pending newsletter.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

"Cases Pending" Highlights Criminal Cases to be Heard During Illinois Supreme Court's January Term


The Illinois Supreme Court's January Term begins on Monday, January 14th. The Term will include oral argument in 6 criminal cases and 7 civil cases between January 15th and January 24th. Below is a listing of the 6 criminal cases that will be heard:


Tuesday, January 15, 2019:


People v. Dimitri Buffer, No. 122327


People v. David Kimble, No. 122830


People v. Ronald Greco, Nos. 122951 & 122952, cons.


People v. Aaron Rios-Salazar, No. 123052


Wednesday, January 16, 2019:


People v. Deontae Murray, No. 123289


People v. Gerald Drake, No. 123734


Below is a summary of one of the criminal cases to be argued. As always, more information about all pending criminal and civil cases is available in the ALA's Cases Pending newsletter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

ALA Hosts Reception Honoring the Justices of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District

On Thursday, January 31, 2019, the Appellate Lawyers Association will host a reception honoring the Justices of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. This year's special honorees are retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman and Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.


The reception is located at Hotel Allegro, 171 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres will be served. Additional details and registration information may be found after the jump.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Carmichael and Ambiguity in Constitutional Law


By: John M. Fitzgerald


The Illinois Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Carmichael v. Laborers’ & Retirement Board Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, 2018 IL 122793 (opinion filed Nov. 29, 2018) has already been the subject of considerable commentary. Commentators have tended to focus on Carmichael’s effect on the issue of pension reform. But another feature of Carmichael merits attention: namely, the Illinois Supreme Court’s increasing use of one particular canon of constitutional and statutory interpretation.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Justice Pope Named Illinois Legislative Inspector General

The Legislative Ethics Commission appointed Justice Carol Pope to serve as the permanent Legislative Inspector General on Tuesday. Justice Pope served on the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, from 2008 to 2017, when she retired from the bench. Before that, Justice Pope served on the Circuit Court of Menard County and as Menard County State's Attorney.
 
Justice Pope will replace acting Inspector General Julie Porter, who was temporarily appointed to the post in 2017. According to the website of the Office of the Legislative Inspector General, the Inspector General receives and investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule, or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and all state employees whose ultimate jurisdictional authority is a legislative leader, the Senate Operations Commission or the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services.


DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The ALA Presents Roundtable Luncheon with Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court December 6, 2018



This year marks the bicentennial of the Illinois judiciary—200 years since the first four justices of the Illinois Supreme Court were appointed in the then-state capital, Kaskaskia, Illinois. The Supreme Court has changed since 1818 in innumerable ways, but it continues to guide all of our state courts and our profession, and to serve the people of Illinois in the finest traditions of the law.

On December 6, 2018, the ALA will host an informal roundtable luncheon with our Supreme Court justices to allow participants to speak with the Justices about appellate practice and the role of the judiciary. This is a rare opportunity and should not be missed. Details and registration may be found after the jump.