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Supreme Court Orders Shorter Appellate Briefs

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted rule changes that will result in shorter appellate briefs based on a “word count” approach of the type used in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.  The current volume limits are 70 pages for principal briefs and 25 pages for reply briefs. Under the new rules, the volume limits are a “word count” of 14,000 words for principal briefs (approximately 56 pages assuming 250 words per page) and 7,000 words for reply briefs (approximately 28 pages assuming 250 words per page).  A brief based on word count must be accompanied by certification of counsel that the brief complies with the limit.  The rule permits continued use of a page count to determine volume, but at the reduced page count levels of 30 pages for principal briefs and 15 pages for reply briefs.

Page limits for other appellate documents have also been converted to word counts.  These are the jurisdictional statement and answer to jurisdictional statement prescribed in Rules 910 and 911, and the application for reargument permitted in Rule 2544.

The new rules also require the text of briefs to be displayed in 14 point type and footnotes in 12 point type.

The rule changes apply to all appeals and petitions for review filed on or after May 28, 2013.

A copy of the Supreme Court’s March 27, 2013 order adopting the rule changes is available here.

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