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.


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