On September 17, 2018, new statewide appellate practice rules took effect in an effort to harmonize the procedures governing appeals to New York’s four Appellate Divisions. Prior to the adoption of these new rules, the procedural aspects of appeals were governed by individual rules unique to each Appellate Division, which resulted in some significant differences in practice between these appeals courts.
The new rules address several practices, including perfecting appeals and the filing of records, appendices and briefs. The most important new rules and practices are summarized below. A copy of the new rules is attached to this blog post.
Time To Perfect An Appeal
The most important change under the new statewide appellate rules is the adoption of a uniform time limit to perfect an appeal. Under the old rules, parties had nine months to perfect an appeal in the First, Third, and Fourth Departments, while Second Department required appeals to be perfected within six months. Under the new statewide appellate rules, all appeals must be perfected within six months. Without a formal motion, attorneys may seek two extensions of their time to perfect an appeal. The initial extension is for sixty days, and the second extension is for up to an additional thirty days.
All appeals not perfected as of September 17, 2018, are governed by the new deadline. However, in the First Department, a simple one page letter request to the Clerk will result in a three month extension as litigants adjust to the new timeline.
Page and Font Requirements for Appellate Briefs
The new statewide appellate rules also standardize the length, font type and font size of appellate briefs. Under the new rules, computer-generated briefs for appellants and respondents are not to exceed 14,000 words. Reply briefs shall not exceed 7,000 words. Each word limit is inclusive of point headings and footnotes, but does not include signature blocks, tables of contents, tables of authority, proofs of service, certificates of compliance, or any authorized addenda. Briefs set in a proportionally spaced type face (e.g., Times New Roman) must be in size 14-point font with 12-point footnotes. Briefs set in a monospaced type face (e.g., Courier New) must be size 12-point font with 10-point footnotes.
Filing of Records, Appendices and Briefs
The new statewide appellate rules also standardize the procedures for filing of records, appendices, and briefs. The new rules leave unchanged the choice of perfecting an appeal through the full-record or appendix methods. If using the full record method, appellants must file an original and five hard copies of the full record, one original and five hard copies of the appeal brief, and one digital copy of the record and appeal brief, along with proof of service of one hard copy of the record and brief upon each party to the appeal. If using the appendix method, appellant must file one original, five hard copies, and one digital copy of the record and appeal brief, along with proof of service.
Also under the new rules, responsive briefs are due to be filed within 30 days of the date of service of the appellant’s submission. Under the full record method, respondent must file an original, five hard copies, and one digital copy of the responsive brief, along with proof of service of one hard copy of the brief on each party to the appeal. Under the appendix method, respondent must also file one original, five hard copies, and one digital copy of the appendix and responsive brief, along with proof of service.
Use of Technology
The new statewide appellate rules also expressly incorporate the growing use of technology in appellate practice. Specifically, Rule 1250.1(c)(4) expressly permits service via electronic mail upon consent of the parties. In addition, Rules 1250.15(b) and 1250.16(a) require publication of the court’s calendars and decisions on the court’s website.