Frequently Asked Questions

Legal Printers
Q. How are the U.S. Supreme Court's Rules different from the lower courts' rules?

A. First, there is no page count limitation for Supreme Court submissions, instead there is a word limit that varies by the type of document – more for a Petition for Certiorari, less for an Amicus Brief. Second, you must use a font in the Century family, e.g., Century Schoolbook, New Century Schoolbook (but not Century Gothic), etc. You may not use the default Times New Roman. And the point size must be 12 points for the body and 10 points for footnotes. The most significant difference is the booklet style the Court requires, using heavier weight paper cut to a specific size. There are other, less obvious requirements as well.

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. 'fraid not. The Court's word-count limitations are intended to ensure that Briefs cannot avoid the limits on arguments. The 9,000 word limit for a Cert. Petition translates roughly to 35-40 pages for the argument. This does not include the cover, Table of Contents, Table of Authorities, Appendix, and several other items. See Rule 33(1)(d).

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. In Word, be sure the check the box counting footnotes, WordPerfect does this automatically. Contact us and we can walk you through the process.

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. At Legal Printers LLC we create and execute both the Affidavit of Service and the Certificate of Word Count Compliance for every filing.

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. 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. Use the default single-spacing option in your word processing software, but you can add space between paragraphs.

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 likely 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 if 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 so to ensure your refiled Petition meets the Court's requirements.

Q. What should I put in the Appendix to my Cert. Petition?

A. The Court requires that you include the orders and opinions from which you're appealing, i.e., the lower court opinions. After that it's largely a legal judgment that is up to you. 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 most recent opinions and continuing backward in time, except that the final Denial should be the last order. After that come 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 scanned, run through an optical character recognition program, corrected and then formatted, so start now.

Q. Can Legal Printers LLC do that for me?

A. Yes.

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's Rules.

Q. I can't seem to make my word processor set my page size at 6 1/8?" x 9 1/4" 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.

Q. Do the deadlines – 14 days, 30 days, 90 days – mean business days or calendar days?

A. Calendar days. They count weekends and holidays, everything. Here is an easy-to-use date calculator to confirm your filing date: https://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html

Q. What if my due date falls on a weekend?

A. Then it's pushed to Monday or, if it's a holiday weekend (Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.), to Tuesday. The Court doesn't require filing on holidays, however, the Court is open when other government offices are generally closed, e.g., government shutdowns or heavy snow in Washington. Even if the rest of the government closes in those instances, except for the most severe instances which would appear on their website (https://www.supremecourt.gov/), the Court generally remains open and filings are due.

Q. How long does it take to print and file my Brief?

A. Our standard turnaround time requires clearance by 3:00 p.m. ET 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 drafts 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. 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 one additional copy to be date-stamped as confirmation of the filing. Then the Rules require that 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 larger 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 8-10 pages. Legal Printers LLC's 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. For a Cert. Petition the $300 docketing fee to the Court may be paid by a check from you to the Clerk of the Court which we would include in your filing but for most clients we 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.

Q. Do I have to send the Court an electronic version of my Brief?

A. Unless you're filing pro se, yes. The Court has set up an electronic filing system to be used by attorneys admitted to practice before the Court. This is separate from your admissions process, after being admitted to practice before the Court you must complete a separate registration for electronic filings. You can setup your account here: https://file.supremecourt.gov/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2F

Q. Can Legal Printers LLC do that for me?

A. No, the Rules require that the electronic filing be done by the Counsel of Record.