Frequently Asked Questions About U.S. Supreme Court Briefs
Q. How do the U.S. Supreme Court's current rules affect the preparation and printing of my document?
A. In October 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted new Rules which change the way documents are prepared in two very significant ways. First, there is no longer a page count limitation for Supreme Court submissions, instead there is now a word limit. Second, you can no longer submit briefs using Times New Roman or other previously acceptable fonts. Now, you must use a font in the Century family, e.g., Century Schoolbook, New Century Schoolbook (but not Century Gothic), etc. And the point size has changed to 12 points for the body and 10 points for footnotes. There have been several smaller revisions more recently but the 2007 changes will guide most filings.
Q. How do I know which words to count?
A. Generally, you need only count the words in your actual argument, including footnotes, but not the Appendix, Table of Contents, Table of Authorities or other supplemental pages. Rule 33(1)(d) specifies which parts of your document must be included in the word count.
Q. How do I count the words?
A. Both Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect are able to count the words for you although they do it differently. Contact us and we can walk you through the process.
Q. Rules 33 and 34 set out a lot of other elaborate requirements for briefs; do they apply to every brief filed with the Court?
A. The only briefs that need not meet the formatting requirements are those filed in forma pauperis. If you wish to file in forma pauperis, you must receive approval from the Court to do so. All other briefs and petitions, including capital cases and pro se filings must abide by the formatting requirements.
Q. What about the requirement in Rule 33(1)(b) about leading between lines?
A. Leading (rhymes with heading) is a carry-over from old-style molten lead typesetting. Single spacing between lines in your word processor should be acceptable.
Q. Does every Cert. Petition require a $300 docketing fee paid to the Court?
A. Except for those filed in forma pauperis, yes. If you filed a Cert. Petition with the Court that was rejected for form, the Court will have kept your fee and you will not have to pay a second time. But for all other cases, including capital cases and pro se filings, the fee to the Court is required.
Q. What do I do when the Court rejects my Petition for form?
A. The first thing to do is make sure of the new date by which you need to file. It is generally 60 days from the date on the rejection letter. Then, contact Legal Printers LLC so we can tell you what documents and files you need to send us.
Q. Does my brief have to be double-spaced?
A. No, in fact you must not double-space it. Many people put an extra space between paragraphs for aesthetics and ease of reading but otherwise your brief must be single spaced.
Q. Are there any adjustments I can make if it looks as though I might run out of room for my argument?
A. No, in fact, as mentioned above, the Court recently changed its page limitations to word-count limitations to ensure that Briefs cannot avoid the limits on arguments. The 9,000 word limit for a Cert. Petition roughly translates to 35-40 pages for the argument. As with other size limitations, this does not include the cover, Table of Contents, Table of Authorities, Appendix, and several other items. See Rule 33(1)(d).
Q. Does the Court employ a word counting clerk?
A. No, but along with the filing and the Affidavit of Service, each Brief must also have a Certificate of Word Count Compliance signed by an attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court or signed and notarized by someone else involved in the preparation of the Brief. Arthur Chotin, the President of Legal Printers LLC and a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, is empowered to create and sign a Certificate of Compliance.
Q. Should the Affidavit of Service and the Certificate of Compliance be bound into the Brief?
A. No, in fact they must not be. They are separate documents that are filed along with copies of the Brief.
Q. What should I put in the Appendix to my Cert. Petition?
A. That's largely a legal judgment that is up to you but the Rules do require certain items including appellate court orders and opinions and trial court orders and opinions. Many people elect to include portions of contracts or portions of transcripts but these are optional. You must not include any additional arguments in the Appendix. See Rules 14 and 34.
Q. Does it matter what I put first in the Appendix?
A. Yes. The appendix documents must generally be in reverse chronological order starting with the court order from which you're appealing, followed by the most recent opinions and continuing backward in time, concluding with other documents such as contracts, statutes or transcripts.
Q. Can I simply photocopy and reduce a hard copy of the appendix materials to the required size?
A. No, the Court will reject your brief. All appendices (except patent documents) must be in the same format as the rest of the Brief, that is, using the same fonts, point sizes and margins. So if you have the materials electronically you must reformat them to match your brief but if you only have hard copies they must be retyped and formatted, so start now.
Q. Can Legal Printers LLC do that for me?
Q. Can Legal Printers LLC format the rest of the brief as well if I simply provide a word processing file?
A. Yes. We are happy to format any portion of a brief you'd like us to do – including none. But you will save a significant amount of money by doing the formatting for yourself and we can help there too. If we are printing your Brief, we can guide you through setting up your file to meet Supreme Court style rules.
Q. I can't seem to make my word processor set my page size at 6 ⅛" x 9 ¼" as required.
A. Don't bother changing your page size, that will only make it difficult to print out a hard copy for you to review anyway. Legal Printers LLC can help you set the margins on your standard 8 ½" x 11" page so that it will print correctly.
Q. Can I just write my brief and change all the margins and fonts at the end?
A. Yes, but we don't recommend that. It will make it much more difficult to keep the Table of Contents and Table of Authorities accurate. Setting the format early also helps to make sure your sections break naturally.
Q. Once I'm done can I just send you my computer file?
A. Yes, but we recommend that you create and send us a PDF file, often called an Acrobat file, as well. When we print your MSWord or WordPerfect file, line and page breaks often change and that could throw off your Table of Authorities or Table of Contents. If you send us a PDF file, you'll know that what we print will be exactly what you saw. You should therefore review your PDF file before you send it to us because if you've been reviewing your word processing file it may be disconcerting to see possible changes that could occur in the conversion to PDF.
Q. How long does it take to print and file my Brief?
A. Our standard turnaround time requires clearance by 3:00 P.M.EST the business day immediately prior to the filing for a Brief that has already been formatted according to the Court's specifications. We therefore urge our clients to send us pages occasionally throughout the process so that we can confirm that the formatting is correct and so that no corrections must be made at the last minute. If we are printing your document, there is no charge for this service.
Q. What happens if time has gotten away from me and I won't be ready until the day I have to file?
A. We can still get it done for you but there will be an additional rush charge.
Q. How much time do you need if you do all the formatting of the brief and the appendix?
A. We generally ask for an additional 2-4 business days, perhaps longer depending on how many pages the appendix will be. The process is that we format both sections and send a PDF file to you for your approval; you might then request changes; we would make the changes and send another proof, and so on.
Q. How many copies should I print?
A. We start our pricing at 50 copies and go up from there. 40 Briefs must be filed with the Court and we always include another copy to be date-stamped as confirmation. Then we serve three copies on each of the other parties with the balance sent back to you. Therefore with just two service parties, 47 briefs are required (40+1+3+3) leaving three copies along with the date-stamped copy. If your office would like more or if there are a large number of service parties, you may want more copies.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. That depends on the page count and the quantity. The quantity starts at 50 copies and goes up from there but the page count is completely variable. A Cert. Petition with a long Appendix could run more than 200 pages, while a Brief in Opposition may be as few as 10-15 pages. Legal Printers LLC' price quote would be based on an assumed page count with the final price being less if the page count is less and a little more if the page count is more.
Q. How do we pay?
A. Unless you make other arrangements, we will request a credit card payment on the day of filing. The $300 docketing fee to the Court may be paid by a check from you to the Clerk of the Court which we can include in your filing if we receive the check in advance, or we can advance the fee and include it along with a service charge on your final bill.
Q. How do I put my live signature on the Brief?
A. Briefs to the Court do not require a live signature, that function is performed by the separate Affidavit of Service. Arthur Chotin, the President of Legal Printers LLC and a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, is empowered to create and sign an Affidavit of Service.
Q. Do I have to send the Court an electronic version of my Brief?
A. The Court now requires that all filings (again, except in forma pauperis briefs) be served electronically on opposing counsel but only briefs on the merits must be electronically filed with the Court.
Q. Can Legal Printers LLC do that for me?