(a) Time to Serve and File a Brief; Where Filed. The appellant must serve and file a brief within 40 days after the date on which the transcript is filed but, if no transcript is ordered, within 40 days after the notice of appeal is filed. The appellee must serve and file a brief within 30 days after the appellant's brief is served. The appellant may serve and file a reply brief within 14 days after service of the appellee's brief; however, if there is less than 14 days before oral argument the reply brief must be filed at least 5 days before argument. All briefs must be filed with the clerk of the supreme court.
(b) Number of Copies to Be Filed and Served.
(1) Each brief must be served and filed as follows:(A) one electronic copy of each brief must be served on counsel for each party separately represented and on each self-represented party or prisoner;(B) if a self-represented party or prisoner cannot accept electronic service, a paper copy of each brief must be served;(C) one electronic copy of each brief must be filed with, or electronically transmitted to, the clerk of the supreme court; and(D) for briefs filed in person, by mail or third-party commercial carrier, an original of each brief must be filed with the clerk of the supreme court.(2) All electronic copies of briefs must comply with Rule 25(a)(3). If a paper brief is filed or served, it must contain all the parts of the electronic brief and be in the same order as in the electronic brief.
(c) Consequence of Failure to File. If an appellant fails to file a brief within the time provided by this rule or within a time extended by the court, the court on its own motion may dismiss the appeal or an appellee may move to dismiss the appeal. An appellee who fails to file a brief will not be heard at oral argument.
Rule 31 was amended, effective January 1, 1988; March 1, 1997; March 1, 1999; March 1, 2001; technical amendments effective August 1, 2001; March 1, 2003; March 1, 2008; March 1, 2011; October 1, 2014; March 1, 2019; November 1, 2020.
Rule 31 was amended, effective March 1, 2003, in response to the December 1, 1998, amendments to Fed.R.App.P. 31. The language and organization of subdivisions (a) and (c) were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make terminology and style consistent throughout the rules.
Subdivision (a) was amended, effective March 1, 2011, to change the deadline for an appellant to serve and file a reply brief if there is less than 14 days before argument from 3 to 5 days before argument.
Subdivision (b) was amended, effective March 1, 2008, to require that a copy of each brief be served on each self-represented party. The subdivision was also amended to update requirements for filing an electronic copy with paper briefs.
Subdivision (b) was amended, effective October 1, 2014, to conform the rule to electronic filing. All parties, whether filing electronically or in paper, must file an electronic copy of the brief unless the party certifies that the brief was not prepared on a computer or word processor.
Paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) were amended, effective March 1, 2019, to eliminate filing of a word processing version of a brief with the clerk of the supreme court and to clarify requirements for service on self-represented parties or prisoners.
Paragraph (b)(1) was amended, effective November 1, 2020, to require an origianl of each brief to be filed when filing is by mail or commercial carrier.
Subdivision (c) was amended, effective March 1, 2008, to clarify extension and dismissal procedure.
Rule 31 was amended, effective October 1, 2014, to replace "supreme court clerk" with "clerk of the supreme court."
SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of September 24, 2020, pages 2-3; September 26, 2013, pages 26-27; April 29-30, 2010, page 24; January 25, 2007, page 19; September 27-28, 2001, page 23; April 26-27, 2001, page 9; September 28-29, 1995, page 12; May 21-22, 1987, page 17; February 19-20, 1987, page 8; September 18-19, 1986, pages 2, 20; May 25-26, 1978, page 17; October 27-28, 1977, pages 6-7; September 15-16, 1977, pages 13-14. Fed.R.App.P. 31.
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