Kozinski Declares War on ‘Fat Briefs’

By August 15, 2016 No Comments, 4 August 2016

Filers of ‘fat’ briefs be warned.  Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski has let his disdain for oversized court filings be known.  In a short-but-effective dissent from an order granting the California Attorney General’s Office permission to file an oversized brief, Kozinski wrote Thursday that it’s become a ‘common and rather lamentable practice’ for attorneys to wait to the last minute ‘to file chubby briefs and dare us to bounce them.’

Kozinski’s dissent comes in a prisoner habeas corpus case which his colleagues on the panel—Circuit Judge Susan Graber and U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sitting by designation—acknowledged was procedurally and factually complex in granting prosecutors permission to exceed the court’s 14,000-word limit.

Kozinski, however, wrote that ‘sly lawyers’ have been taking advantage of the fact that judges want to hear from all sides and don’t want to gum up case schedules by denying last-minute requests to exceed word counts…rules, so I won’t read past page 66 of the state’s brief,’ wrote Kozinski, in a dissent that checked in at less than 350 words in Cuevas v. Hartley.

‘If counsel for the state wishes me to consider any argument in the remaining portion of her brief, she should feel free to file a substitute brief, no longer than 14,000 words, which I will read in lieu of her oversized brief, so long as it is filed no later than seven days from the date of this order.’  A spokeswoman for the AG said the office would have no comment.

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