TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: August 17, 2011
RE: Rule 24, N.D.R.App.P., Supplemental Brief of Indigent Defendant; Rule 32, N.D.R.App.P., Form of Briefs, Appendices, and Other Papers; Rule 40, N.D.R.App.P., Petition for Rehearing
At its April meeting, the Committee looked at the Supreme Court's suggestion that page and word limits be reduced for appellate briefs.
The Court suggested that the limit for a supplemental brief under Rule 25 would be reduced from 20 to 16 pages; a primary brief under Rule 32 would be cut to 8,000 words (or 32 pages if monospaced type is used); a reply brief under Rule 32 would be limited to 2,000 words (eight pages monospace); and a petition for rehearing under Rule 40 would be cut to 2,000 words (eight pages monospace).
The Committee discussed these proposals and instructed staff to research whether there was a trend at state appellate courts to reduce page limits for briefs.
Staff looked at the appellate rules of the 50 states and has attached a list of page limits for primary briefs across the country. There does not appear to be a trend to reduce brief size limits. North Dakota at present appears to have page limits that are average or slightly below average. Most states do not count words, but put a page limit on briefs. The most common page limit, used by 19 states, is 50 pages.
California allows the longest briefs: 102,000 words or 300 pages. Other states with the death penalty have similar page limits specific to death penalty cases. On the other end of the scale, six states limit brief size to 30 pages (Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, and Oklahoma). Of these 30-page states, two also have parallel word limits: Colorado defines 30 pages as 9,500 words, Montana as 10,000. Both of these word limits are higher than the proposed North Dakota 32-page word limit of 8,000 words. North Carolina has a 35 page limit that it defines as 8,750 words, which is the same number of words Virginia allows in a 50 page brief.
Staff prepared proposed amendments to Rules 24, 32 and 40 for the April meeting. These amendments are attached.