Saturday was the effective date for new word limits for appellate filings in the state’s 14 intermediate appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Lawyers must include a certificate of compliance with each document stating its word count.
Verbiage hurts: If a document exceeds its word limit, a court may strike it and require a party to re-file. If the document is still too wordy, the court may “prohibit the party from filing further documents of the same kind,” according to the Texas Supreme Court’s order that approved changes to the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure.
After proposing the changes on Aug. 10, the Supreme Court accepted public comment and made revisions. The changes were minor, says Supreme Court Rules Attorney Marisa Secco. The high court approved the final version on Nov. 13.
The new rules include the following word limits:
- direct appeal death-penalty brief and response to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — 37,500 words;
- petition and response to the Supreme Court and CCA — 4,500 words;
- reply to a response to the Supreme Court and CCA — 2,400 words;
- brief and response in an appellate court — 15,000 words;
- reply brief or response to a petition in an original proceeding in an appellate court — 7,500 words;
- motion forrehearing and response in an appellate court — 4,500 words;
- aggregate of all of a party’s briefs in a civil case in a court of appeals – 27,000 words.
Some sections of the document won’t count toward the word limit, such as the index, table of contents, identity of parties and counsel.
-- Angela Morris