October 2016 Bar Bulletin
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October 2016 Bar Bulletin

KCSC Local Rules Change
Affects Court Briefs


Effective September 1, the King County Superior Court has amended Local Rule 7 (among many amendments to the Local Rules) to change the limit on motions and responding memoranda based on the number of words rather than the number of pages.

The new Local Rule 7(b)(5)(B)(vi) now reads as follows (excised material has a strike-through; new material is underlined):

(vi) Page Word Limits. The initial motion and opposing memorandum shall not exceed 4,200 words 12 pages without authorization of the court; reply memoranda shall not exceed 1,750 words five pages without the authority of the court. The word count includes all portions of the motion/memorandum, including headings and footnotes, except 1) the caption; 2) tables of contents and/or authorities, if any; and 3) the signature block. The signature block shall include the certification of the signer as to the number of words, substantially as follows: “I certify that this memorandum contains words, in compliance with the Local Civil Rules.”

According to Superior Court Presiding Judge Susan Craighead, the Court changed from page to word limits because a number of judges received highly illegible briefs due to strained attempts to beat the page limit. This included extremely small margins, small type, strange fonts, 1½ spaces between lines (instead of double spacing), and more.

Because programs such as Word readily provide word counts, this is an easy way for lawyers to know how long a document is, and there are fewer, if any, ways to beat the system, Judge Craighead said. This also allows lawyers the freedom to provide readable text (e.g., font size and style, block quotes, and footnotes) without having to worry about page limits. The change was modeled on the federal appellate rule that employs word limits.

All of the Local Rules changes can be viewed at http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/clerk/rules.aspx.


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