Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Law Firm Sanctioned for Wrong Line Spacing in Brief

According to the article, they used 24-point spacing, rather 3lol04/07/17
According to the article they did this to fit more into thei isthisit04/07/17
24-point spacing may, or may not, be double spacing, dependi dingbat04/07/17
or you could just follow the rules. sjlawyer04/07/17
as I said, some techniques are within the rules. A court ma dingbat04/07/17
http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/ru les/rule_2_6.pdf "Pape sjlawyer04/07/17
How much extra text were they able to cram in because of the rubbersoul1404/07/17
approximately 8% dingbat04/07/17
Ahahaa...my firm once did this. Then the other side called therewillbeblood04/07/17
There's a right way and a wrong way to gain a space in a bri flyer1404/07/17
Reduce the font size of periods and commas. retard04/07/17
Reason #14,576 that litigation sucks. rainsofcastamere04/07/17
I've turned in an appellate brief to my jurisdiction's Supre jd4hire04/07/17
Good God, the poor term clerks that have to read this crap. trollfeeder04/07/17
I side with the court. Letting one firm break the rules mean adamb04/07/17
I agree the extra arguments probably won't make a difference thirdtierlaw04/09/17
generally, courts bend over backwards for pro se litigants, dingbat04/10/17
I'm fine with it if it's intentional. If it was inadvertent, jorgedeclaro04/07/17
I once had a colleague intentionally game 24 point to get an midlaw04/09/17
Mess with any court's rules on submissions, and you run the parlance04/09/17
I remember I had a point knocked off my grade in legal writi anonattempt04/10/17
Really? I can't think of a single style guide, i.e. APA, MLA thirdtierlaw04/10/17
Professor's style requirements are the law of the land in th anonattempt04/10/17
why would you press the enter key after a period? Anyway, t dingbat04/10/17
Sorry, was distracted while writing. Meant to say space bar anonattempt04/10/17
Generally agreed. I use two spaces when I'm allowed to lol. anonattempt04/10/17

3lol (Apr 7, 2017 - 9:43 am)

According to the article, they used 24-point spacing, rather than "double spacing." I always thought these were the same thing...

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/susman_godfrey_is_sanctioned_for_wrong_line_spacing_in_brief/

I any event, what a shameless mockery of the vaunted rule of law by this diabolically unethical firm.

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isthisit (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:18 am)

According to the article they did this to fit more into their brief on behalf of Amazon. So I'm more sympathetic to the court. If this had been a careless mistake by the firm than I'd think the Judge was being an ass.

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dingbat (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:25 am)

24-point spacing may, or may not, be double spacing, depending on the font size. From experience, I can tell you there are a gazillion ways to either increase or decrease the amount of text on a page, including font selection, slight adjustments to the margins, using 1.95 or 2.05 spacing instead of double spacing, 11.5/12.5 font size, and even increasing/decreasing the width between letters by a small percentage.

Many of those techniques are within the rules, and, more importantly, won't get you caught.

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sjlawyer (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:37 am)

or you could just follow the rules.

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dingbat (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:59 am)

as I said, some techniques are within the rules. A court may specify double spacing and 12 point font, but I've never seen court rules regulating the exact width between letters.

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sjlawyer (Apr 7, 2017 - 12:40 pm)

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/rule_2_6.pdf

"Papers shall be approximately 8.5 inches
by 11 inches and, unless a compressed transcript format is used, shall contain no more
than 26 double-spaced lines of no more than 65 characters including spaces, each of
no less than 10-pitch or 12-point type."

While not regulating width between letters, 65 characters, including spaces, per line seems to have the same effect.

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rubbersoul14 (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:41 am)

How much extra text were they able to cram in because of the spacing?

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dingbat (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:58 am)

approximately 8%

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therewillbeblood (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:42 am)

Ahahaa...my firm once did this. Then the other side called us out and I had to write a brief defending our use of 24-point instead of double-spaced font.

I actually bought the Typography for Lawyers book while doing it to have some support.

The court ended up Not Caring.

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flyer14 (Apr 7, 2017 - 10:43 am)

There's a right way and a wrong way to gain a space in a brief to comply with page limitations. Having filled out enough form 1206's and EPR's...

1. Open Microsoft Word or a new email in Outlook.

2. Type “2009”

3. Highlight “2009”, and press “Alt” and “X” key at the same time. 2009 will disappear and a blank space will be left. This appears to be half of a typical blank space.

4. Next, press “Ctrl” and “C” at the same time.

5. Open the awards package or evaluation, and highlight a blank space and press “Ctrl” and “V” at the same time and watch the space shrink.

6. Repeat this for each blank space until your desired effect is reached.

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retard (Apr 7, 2017 - 12:28 pm)

Reduce the font size of periods and commas.

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rainsofcastamere (Apr 7, 2017 - 1:09 pm)

Reason #14,576 that litigation sucks.

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jd4hire (Apr 7, 2017 - 1:41 pm)

I've turned in an appellate brief to my jurisdiction's Supreme Court and had it rejected as one footnote was 10 pt font and the default text (firm uses garamond and the Supremes want Times New Roman). The overall brief was two pages under the page limit and had absolutely no impact at all.

Nonetheless, they called two days after the brief was delivered and informed me that we had to file a brief that adhered to the rules. Clerk spoke with my secretary and the agreed upon resolution was that we would swap out the "offending" page. Our Supreme Court requires an original and 9 copies of all documents filed. The secretary literally walked over with a staple remover, unbound the 10 packages previously filed, removed the offending page and swapped in a new one wherein our footnote was 12 point, times new roman.

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trollfeeder (Apr 7, 2017 - 4:08 pm)

Good God, the poor term clerks that have to read this crap. How much more does one need to illuminate on these issues, that they are going up against brief limits?

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adamb (Apr 7, 2017 - 4:33 pm)

I side with the court. Letting one firm break the rules means everyone can. Briefs need limits. I doubt that the extra pages or whatever would help to win the case. Instead, the shenanigans pissed off the judges, court attorneys, and clerks.

From experience, most people write too much in briefs anyway. And edit poorly.

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thirdtierlaw (Apr 9, 2017 - 6:35 am)

I agree the extra arguments probably won't make a difference in the case. I also agree it is B.S. to try gaming the formatting rules. It wastes everyone's time. However, I suspect if they are filing on behalf of Amazon and took the time to get... creative... with the spacing it was probably very well edited.

I typically avoid appellate work for the obnoxiousness of our formatting rules. Our Supreme Court requires a ridiculous number of copies of everything.

It's just not worth our legal assistant's time to package everything.

I do feel terrible for pro se litigants who try taking this on themselves. I'd guess well more than half fail to even make it to the court due to formatting issues.

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dingbat (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:27 am)

generally, courts bend over backwards for pro se litigants, and they usually don't get in trouble for such silly things as formatting issues (or needing complete re-writes on everything they submit to the court)

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 7, 2017 - 4:55 pm)

I'm fine with it if it's intentional. If it was inadvertent, then you let it go. Dechipering intent can be hard and give a slight benefit of the doubt.

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midlaw (Apr 9, 2017 - 12:13 am)

I once had a colleague intentionally game 24 point to get another half-page to make an argument he couldn't fit in otherwise. If I was a judge, I'd sanction for this.

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parlance (Apr 9, 2017 - 12:48 pm)

Mess with any court's rules on submissions, and you run the risk of sanctions.
And federal court? They will throw the book at you.

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anonattempt (Apr 10, 2017 - 9:24 am)

I remember I had a point knocked off my grade in legal writing because I used one space after a few sentences, instead of two spaces, so I could keep a few paragraphs from spilling over onto another line by one word. Honestly, I thought it was fair, as my paper was exactly at the page limit. The professor also refused to consider the last few sentences as part of the paper when she was grading it, which I presume meant another point or two knocked off the grade. Fair enough I guess lol. Equitable treatment + punitive damages.

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thirdtierlaw (Apr 10, 2017 - 9:46 am)

Really? I can't think of a single style guide, i.e. APA, MLA, Chicago, that recommends 2 spaces after a period. How long ago was this? My understanding is that this switch in formatting occurred after typewriters were phased out.

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anonattempt (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:02 am)

Professor's style requirements are the law of the land in the classroom lol. This was in the last ten years. Professor was about 50 or 60 years old. Lots of attorneys still use the two spaces I think, in part because that is the practice that the law professors who teach legal writing are familiar with, and that's the rule they impart to their students.

And it's no surprise to me that editors (i.e., the people who decide what the APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. rules should be) have chosen one space, as Microsoft Word's find and replace feature makes it easy to enforce the single space rule, and enforcing a single-space-generally-but-two-spaces-after-a-period rule could only be automatically enforced with a special computer program or Word function. Further, one of the main arguments against the two-space practice is that Microsoft and other word processing programs already increase the space after a period automatically, so pressing the space bar twice is overkill. The other main argument is simply that the practice of two spaces after a period has no merit. However, somewhat ironically, the fact that word processors do add more space after periods seems like a tacit acknowledgement that there is some level of merit to the practice.

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dingbat (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:28 am)

why would you press the enter key after a period?
Anyway, the practice certainly had, and to some extent still has, merit.

Visually, it helps separate things out:
no space between letters, one space between words, 2 spaces between sentences, and a break between paragraphs.

Depending on the font, it still helps to distinguish

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anonattempt (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:31 am)

Sorry, was distracted while writing. Meant to say space bar.

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anonattempt (Apr 10, 2017 - 10:52 am)

Generally agreed. I use two spaces when I'm allowed to lol.

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