Thursday, July 13, 2017

FRAP Happy

In comparison to other Circuits, the Ninth Circuit is pretty user-friendly and casual. This extends to its interpretation of certain briefing rules. Yeah, the federal rules technically require an appellant's opening brief to include "a jurisdictional statement" that asserts the basis for the district court's jurisdiction (with citations and relevant facts establishing jurisdiction), plus the basis for the court of appeals' jurisdiction (again with applicable citations and relevant facts), including the filing dates establishing the timeliness of the appeal, and the assertion that the appeal is from a final order or judgment that disposes of all the parties' claims (or other info establishing jurisdiction). (See FRAP 28(a)(4)(A-D).) The Ninth Circuit has its own rule, Circuit Rule 28-2.2, about the statement of jurisdiction, which is less onerous. Even so, a large percentage of briefs in the 9th Circuit probably don't strictly comply with the 'statement of jurisdiction rule,' and the court simply doesn't bother about it. After all, by this point, jurisdiction has been screened pretty carefully a few times already. But not all courts are as forgiving...

On Monday the Seventh Circuit dropped this bomb here, titled Jurisdictional Screening Orders, in which Chief Judge Wood essentially says, "please follow the damn rules to the letter, or we'll strike your brief!" Key quotes:

"a distressing number of briefs filed in this court do not comply with the requirements of FRAP 28"
Image result for warning
You've been warned!
The appellee cannot simply assume that the appellant has provided a jurisdictional statement that complies with the rules. Common problems in appellants’ jurisdictional statements include, in federal question cases where jurisdiction depends on 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the failure to specify the particular statute or constitutional provision at issue, and in diversity cases, failure to distinguish between citizenship (required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332) and residency (irrelevant) and, for organizations such as partnerships, LLPs, and LLCs, the failure to work back through the ownership structure until one reaches either individual human beings or a formal corporation with a state of incorporation and a state of principal place of business.
"The job of the appellee is to review the appellant’s jurisdictional statement to see if it is both complete and correct. These terms are not synonyms." (Italics and bold in original.)
There is no reason why, month after month, year after year, the court should encounter jurisdictional statements with such obvious flaws. This imposes needless costs on everyone involved. ... I hope that this opinion will prevent the same problems from continuing to arise.