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Delaware Supreme Court Amends Technical Briefing and Filing Requirements Effective as of October 3, 2016

By Megan A. McGovern

Effective October 3, 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court amended Rules 10.2 (eFile Administrative Procedures), 13 (Form of Briefs), 14 (Briefs and Appendices; Contents), 15 (Briefs and Appendices; Time for Service and Filing), 18 (Reargument), 25 (Expedited Procedure), 26 (Appeals in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Cases), 26.1 (Appeals in Termination of Parental Rights Cases), 30 (Motions) and 69 (Categories of Bar Membership and Annual Registration), all of which provide for new technical briefing and filing requirements.  The amendments will apply to all briefing schedules, including those issued before October 3, 2016.

The Court’s Order amended Rule 10.2’s eFile administrative requirements.  Amended Rule 10.2 eliminated the provision that permitted a document to exceed page limitation rules by two pages when the additional pages resulted from the electronic conversion or filing process.  In addition, under the amended Rule 10.2, litigants are no longer required to link related documents when filed electronically.

As amended, Rule 13 increases the font size for footnotes from 12-point typeface to 14-point typeface.  Under the amended Rule 13, all text must be in Times New Roman 14-point typeface and double-spaced, with the exception of quotations of more than 50 words and footnotes, which should be single-spaced.

Rule 14, which limits the length of briefs, will now incorporate a word count instead of a page count.  Under the new rule, briefs are limited to the following word count:

  • Opening or answering brief shall not exceed 10,000 words;
  • Reply brief shall not exceed 5,500 words;
  • Appellee’s answering/opening brief on cross-appeal shall not exceed 14,000 words;
  • Appellant’s reply/answering brief on cross-appeal shall not exceed 10,000 words; and
  • Appellee’s reply brief on cross-appeal shall not exceed 5,500 words.

The word count excludes the front cover, material required pursuant to Rule 14(b)(i)-(ii), signature block and any footer included pursuant to Rule 10.2(5).

Additionally, Rule 14(d)(ii) now requires parties to submit a Certificate of Compliance that the brief complies with the typeface requirements of Rule 13(a) and the word count limitations of Rule 14(d)(i).  The Certificate of Compliance must state the number of words in the brief.  A sample Certificate of Compliance, Form R, can be found on page 7 of the Court’s Order amending Rules 10.2, 13, 14, 15, 26 and 26.1.

Unrepresented parties without access to a word processing program are bound to the pre-amendment page limits (total 35 pages for opening or answering brief; total 20 pages for reply brief; total 50 pages for answering/opening brief on cross-appeal; total 35 pages for reply/answering brief on cross-appeal; total 20 pages for reply brief, if any, on cross appeal).

Parties may seek leave from the Court to exceed the length limitation set forth in Rule 14, but must file such a request at least five days before the brief’s filing deadline.  The Court will only grant such an extension “for good cause shown.”

Rule 15 eliminates language limiting the length of a reply brief on cross-appeal, as the length restriction will now be governed by the word limit restrictions imposed by amended Rule 14.

Rule 18, governing motions for reargument, and  Rule 25(a), governing motions to affirm in certain criminal appeals, are amended to incorporate the word count limitation for motions set forth in Rule 30 and typeface requirements set forth in Rule 13.

The Court amended Rules 26 and 26.1 to add a 35-page maximum for the points submitted by defendants and respondents whose attorneys move to withdraw on appeal.

Rule 30, which governs the length of motions, also now incorporates a word count limit instead of a page count.  Motions, answers, and replies shall not exceed 1,200 words, and parties must submit a Certificate of Compliance that the filing does not exceed the word limit and complies with the typeface requirements of Rule 13.  Motions, answers, and replies filed by unrepresented parties without access to a word processing program shall not exceed four pages.

The Delaware Supreme Court’s Internal Operating Procedure XVIII(7)(j) was also amended to incorporate the word count limits implemented in Rule 14.

Finally, Rule 69 is amended to reflect a change to Delaware Rule for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Rule 3.

A copy of the Order amending Rules 10.2, 13, 14, 15, 26 and 26.1 can be found here. A copy of the Order amending Rules 18, 25, 30 and 69 can be found here.

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