How Not to Respond to a Word Limit

Pi-Net Int’l Inc. v. JPMorgan Chase & Co. probes the rule that federal appellant’s opening brief not exceed 14,000 words. Dissatisfied with that limit, appellant omitted spaces between words to get the computer to court multiple words as a single one.  For example, appellant gave a citation as follows: Thorner.v.SonyComputerEntm’tAm.LLC,669F3d1362,1365(Fed.Cir.2012), counting it as one word.  It would ordinarily have read: Thorner v. Sony Computer Entm’t Am. LLC, 669 F.3d 1362, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2012) and counted for 14 words.

The court was not amused.  After one wasted chance to correct the rule violation, the court dismissed the appeal.  In other words the appellant lost the case before the court ever considered the merits.

As it happens, the brief was not written by the lawyer representing the appellant but by one of the appellants herself.  The brief author seems to have learned nothing from the experience, arguing even after the dismissal that the brief was in “impeccable form.”

The lessons for appellants are (1) listen when your lawyer tells you something is not a good idea and (2) don’t think you an impress a judge with how clever you are.  They’ve seen it all before.

The Comma Queen on Apostrophes

I’m old enough to remember James Kilpatrick’s columns on usage and the like.  His advice on apostrophes with words ending in “s” was to treat it as you would say it.   In the example in the video, most of us would say Norris’s car.  Since we would say it, Kilpatrick would have agreed with the video that we should write it with an apostrophe-s even though the word ends in “s.”  The video also refers to Greek names such as Aristophanes.  Most of us would not say “Aristophaneses.”  Hence Kilpatrick would have agreed with the video that we should simply add an apostrophe after the preexisting “s.”

My caution is that I have never seen anyone else set out Kilpatrick’s rule.