Amicus Litigant Files Cartoon Brief in Protest of Five-Page Limit Imposed By Court

We have all chafed at the limitations placed by courts on filings — limits that often require counsel to drop whole claims or issues. For Bob Kohn, the chairman and chief executive of RoyaltyShare, however, the requirement that he reduce over ninety pages of arguments into five pages was absurd. According, he filed a five-page cartoon strip as his amicus filing.

The briefest of briefs was filed in opposition to the Department of Justice’s proposed settlement with three book publishers over accusations of e-book price fixing. Kohn was limited by Judge Denise L. Cote of Federal District Court in Manhattan to the five pages. Kohn called upon his daughter, Katie, who is studying for her Ph.D in film studies at Harvard, to help out. Katie enlisted friend Julia Alekseyeva to do the illustrations while Kohn did the script.

The rules do not prohibit pictures, though they do require headings and other details:

All papers shall be typed (double spaced) or reproduced by any duplicating or copying process that produces a clear black image on opaque white paper 11 inches long and 8-1/2 inches wide, unfolded, without back or cover, fastened at the top. Every paper shall contain a heading under the caption describing the nature of the pleading, motion or other paper. Papers should also be punched at the top with two holes, 2 3/4 inches apart and 3/8 inch from the top, to facilitate insertion in the file jacket. The case number on every paper shall be followed by the initials of the judge to whom the case has been assigned. If the case has been referred to a magistrate judge, the magistrate judge’s initials shall also be shown. All exhibits or attachments to papers should reflect the number of the case in which they are filed.

Since I am currently trying to shoehorn about 50 pages in a opposition to summary judgment into 25 pages, the idea of a cartoon strip is certainly appealing.

Source: Media Decoder as first seen on ABA Journal

13 thoughts on “Amicus Litigant Files Cartoon Brief in Protest of Five-Page Limit Imposed By Court”

  1. Why file 41 one pages when you only have to file 11? You’re going to lose anyway, and it saves $300.00.

  2. The cartoon was genius. Sometimes when faced with an impossible requirement, one seemingly to make the person fail by design, it affords a great deal of freedom for the bold. Why not? Since there is nothing to lose.

    I’ll bet this proves to be a very strong retort against the five page requirement.

  3. Tell ya what Judge Lamebrain, you just read the first five pages and we will read the rest of it.

  4. Five pages is way too short. The judge needs to be removed from the bench and take up a job doing divorce cases. The cartoon was a good idea. Perhaps the brief should speak in computer talk, text talk, like: can u send some pics? The brief page limitation demonstrates that the court has no retention span and the judges should not be retained.

    Of course this is a federal district court in Manhattan, NY. The Yorkies know everything, so why does one need to file a brief anyway.

  5. A mother in Iowa was in a divorce case when her two-year-old daughter came back from day care (to which she had been taken by her father) complaining of pain between her legs and screaming with pain when bathwater touched her genitals. Mom took her to a doctor who said the child had been molested, so Mom reported the day-care center to child protective services, who cleared them, but mom changed day-care centers. Next time parents transferred child, problem recurred, mom called CPS, they said probably dad, began investigation. Judge TOLD guardian ad litem to stop the investigation — which he did — and the judge took the kid away from mom with no visitation. Mom fought through the trial court and up to appeal and from there to the Supreme Court of Iowa, all pro se (no $). The Supreme Court of Iowa rejected her brief because it was not “bound on the left” and the mom had no more money for more copies. She put in a one-page brief (opposition had cited no cases) and drew chains and handcuffs around “mommy’s” and “baby’s” hands down the left margin, made her requisite 11 copies and served and filed.

    She lost, without comment (“Affirmed”) that time but two years later got the whole thing reversed on appeal. The reason? No cases and no statutes to support the court’s original action of taking away custody and visitation without a best interests hearing — in other words, “That’s what SHE said!”

    “Bound on the Left” was the title of the brief. I loved that brief.

  6. I feel I must oppose the suggestion that a 5-page limit would limit legal writings. From all the legal writings I have seen (patent applications mostly, but I have read some other stuff out of interest) it is clear that most have so much excess verbiage that condensing 90 pages to 5 written in plain English should not be a challenge. I just signed an Assignment of Inventors which was 4 pages long. There was no reason it couldn’t have been a single simple plain sentence. I’d be glad to read the explanation of a lawyer or legal scholar….

  7. Raff,

    I worry about the comprehensive level of this judge….. Then again everything is about instant gratification in today’s world….

  8. Just email the briefs and save the paper. I would guess that the judge would not be as amused as I am with the comic strip brief.

  9. “Humor is truth, only faster.” – Gilda Radner

    I guess then that a humorous brief can be smaller but largely effective (at least an amicus brief anyway).

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