Court Rules for Electronic and Hyperlinked Briefs
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  U.S. Supreme Court


The Court Rules (available here) do not address either electronic or hyperlinked briefs.   In April 2004, the Merits Clerk told us that the Court does accept hyperlinked briefs on CD-ROM.  She suggested that such briefs be hand-delivered, because mail containing computer disks is sent for screening, so delivery may be delayed for several weeks.



  First Circuit Court of Appeals

The First Circuit
(court rules available here) is one of the few courts to have specific rules governing hyperlinked briefs, and has by far the most intricate requirements.  Local Rule 32 requires that all parties include an electronic version of all pleadings more than 10 pages long.  Local Rule 32.1 not only allows hyperlinked briefs, but encourages the parties to file a joint CD-ROM.  Briefs with hyperlinks must be filed within ten (10) days after the deadline for hard copies, or fourteen (14) days for joint submissions (L.R. 32.1(c)).

The CD-ROM label must include specific information (L.R. 32.1(d) (4) & (5)).  The court requires that the CD-ROM contain the briefs, appendices, and any prior submissions by the parties (L.R. 32.1(e)(1)).  The submitting party may, but is not required to, include other briefs and pleadings, the record, and any materials cited in the main briefs (L.R. 32.1(e)(2)).  "Parties are encouraged to file the entire record." (Id.)

The Court has specific requirements about format, where the files reside on the CD-ROM, and an index page (L.R. 32.1(f) & (h)).  Hyperlinks can point only to materials on the same CD-ROM, not to any other CDs or the Internet (L.R. 32.1(g)).  Presumably, a party could download a webpage, convert it to PDF, and include it on the CD.



  Second Circuit Court of Appeals

The Second Circuit court rules (available here) do not address electronic briefs.  Instead, the Court in 1997 issued Administrative Order 98-2 (apparently not available online), stating that electronic briefs may be filed when all parties have consented or the court has granted a motion to file.  In a recent case,
Phansalkar v. Andersen, Weinroth & Co., L.P., 356 F3d. 188 (2d Cir. 2004), the court described electronic briefs as "versatile" and "useful."  Id. at 191.  The court denied the prevailing party the costs of preparing the briefs, concluding that they duplicate the normal hard copies.  Id.



  Third Circuit Court of Appeals

The Third Circuit rules (available here) do not address electronic briefs.



  Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Fourth Circuit rules (available here) do not address electronic briefs.



  Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Fifth Circuit rules (available here) require an electronic copy of all briefs produced on a computer, but do not mention hyperlinks.  Circuit Rule 31.1 requires a brief in PDF on a 3-1/2" disk. 



  Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Sixth Circuit rules (available here) do not address electronic briefs.



  Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

The Seventh Circuit rules (available here) require an electronic copy of all briefs, but do not mention hyperlinks.  Circuit Rule 31(e) requires a digital copy of each brief and the joint appendix to be filed with the paper copy of the brief.  The digital brief may be provided on a disk or over the Internet (Cir. R. 31(e)(1)).  The brief must be in PDF, converted from the original word processing text (Cir. R. 31(e)(3)).

The Seventh Circuit handbook (available here) has the additional requirement that a disk, "if used, must contain nothing more than the text of the brief in a single file."  Section XXI H.  It is not clear how this requirement can be reconciled with the requirement that the appendix be filed with the brief.

The best way to resolve this apparent conflict would be to provide simple PDF documents, and then provide a separate disk with all of the hyperlinked material.

The Seventh Circuit "Brief Filing Checklist" (available here) lists a requirement that counsel providing a brief on CD-Rom include a certification that the disk is virus-free. (Checklist No. 21).



  Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Eighth Circuit rules (available here)
require an electronic copy of all briefs, but do not mention hyperlinks.  Local Rule 28(d) requires a digital copy of each brief and the joint appendix to be filed with the paper copy of the brief.  The brief must be in PDF, converted from the original word processing text (L.R. 28(d)). The rule also specifies that "nothing else shold be on the diskette or CD-ROM." (Id.).

The best way to provide a hyperlinked brief, then, would be to file a second disk with all of the hyperlinked material.



  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Ninth Circuit rules (available here) do not mention electronic or hyperlinked briefs.  In a 2001 notice (available here), the Court announced an "experiment" in accepting electronic briefs.  All parties must agree.  Each CD-ROM may contain only one brief.  The parties also may include record excerpts. 



  Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Tenth Circuit rules (available here) do not address electronic briefs.



  Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

The Eleventh Circuit rules (available here)
require an electronic copy of all briefs, but do not mention hyperlinks.  Circuit Rule 31-5 requires a digital copy of each brief to be filed with the paper copy of the brief.  The digital brief may be provided on a disk or over the Internet (Cir. R. 31-5).  "Hypertext links or bookmarks to cases, statues, or other reference materials available on the Internet or appended to the brief are authorized. (Cir. R. 31-5(a)(b) & (c)).



  District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals

The District of Colubmia rules (available here) do not mention electronic or hyperlinked briefs.



  Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

The Federal Circuit, perhaps because of its jurisdiction over patent and other cases involving large amounts of technical material, has developed a specific rule (available here) governing hyperlinked briefs.  Cir. R. 32(e) requires either consent from the opposing party or permission from the court.  The court will deny permission only if the objecting party shows "substantial prejudice." (Cir. R. 32(e)(1).  Thet potential pitfall is the rule's requirement that you seek agreement from opposing counsel within 14 days after filing the notice of appeal (Id.) and "promply" file a notice of intention to file an electronic brief (if opposing counsel agrees) or a motion for leave (if there is no agreement).

Hyperlinks be must confined to matters in the record or legal authorities (Cir. R. 32(c)(2)).  The court requires a certification that the CD-ROM is virus-free (Cir. R. 32(c)(3)).  The CD-ROM must be filed by the time the hard copy of the joint appendix is due (7 days after the reply brief) (Cir. R. 32(c)(4)).




  Georgia, Northern District

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia accepts electronic filings online. 

The court rules for civil cases (available here) allow "courtesy copies" of pleadings to be supplied to a judge or magistrate on CD-ROM.  Local Rule 5.2(A)(2) allows hyperlinks to "case cites, statutes, affidavits, depositions and exhibits."  The only other requirement is that copies be served on all parties (Id.).

The court rules for criminal cases (available here) state that motions are subject to the format and filing requirements of Local Rule 5.2 (LCrR 12.1(A)).



  Georgia, Middle District

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia expects to be ready to accept electronic fililng in July 2004.  The court rules (avilable here) do not mention hyperlinked briefs.



  Georgia, Southern District

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia has not made public any plans to accept electronic filings.  Neither the court rules for civil cases (available here) nor those for criminal cases (available here) mention hyperlinked briefs.



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