It happens a few times a year – an entry in the Ohio Supreme Court’s daily announcements reads like this:
2022-1310. Leaf v. Leaf.
Delaware App. No. 22 CAF 03 0016, 2022-Ohio-3301. Sua sponte, pages 16 through 18 of appellant’s memorandum in support of jurisdiction stricken for failure to comply with S.Ct.Prac.R. 7.02(B) (requiring that a memorandum “not exceed fifteen numbered pages, exclusive of the table of contents and the certificate of service”). Sua sponte, all documents in appendix of appellant’s memorandum in support of jurisdiction except for the date-stamped copy of the court of appeals’ opinion and judgment entry being appealed stricken for failure to comply with S.Ct.Prac.R. 7.02(D) (a memorandum shall not include attachments other than judgment entries or opinions issued in the case).
The Ohio Supreme Court is particularly strict when it comes to local rules compliance. Rather than reject the filing, and provide an opportunity to correct the issue, they often issue orders like this.
There are stories among more aged (ahem) lawyers about similar behavior occurring in the days of paper filing, during the transition between 8½” by 14” legal paper size and 8½” by 11” letter paper size used today. Attorneys were warned of judges who would use scissors to cut off the bottom three inches if the wrong size paper were filed. Is there anything important at the bottom of the page?
Like that issue, the problems here are two-fold. First, non-compliance means you risk the court missing what you would consider the most important part of your briefing. In the Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction, that is the argument in support of the propositions of law, which traditionally appear at the end. What if the crux of your argument was in pages 16-18? The court won’t be reviewing it.
The second is that one of the main goals of the appellant litigator is to appear competent. Demonstrating you do not understand how the Supreme Court Rules of Practice operate undermines that goal entirely.
Rules compliance practice tips
Practice Tip #1
Although the party in the Leaf case was pro se, the rules applied the same to her. What can one do in this instance? In general, the Ohio Supreme Court will accept an amended filing within the deadline for the original filing. In her case, the decision being appealed from was dated on Oct. 7, 2022, meaning she had 45 days (until Nov. 21) to file the Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction. She should be able to file an amended memorandum that complies with the page limits and the appendix requirements.
Practice Tip #2
Let’s assume you’re a diligent writer, but can’t seem to manage to fit everything in on 15 pages. The court has accepted without striking filings where the text of the argument fits within the page limit, but the signature block is by itself on an extra page. Since this is not expressly stated in the rules, we are providing this as an informational suggestion only (but it is a practice we have done ourselves).