The CockleBur Blog

Circuit Court Consultation and Printing Services

Circuit CourtsNot only can Cockle Legal Briefs help you prepare and file your Briefs in the United States Supreme Court, we can also help you prepare and file Appellate Briefs in the Second Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, or any of the thirteen Federal Circuit Courts. The filing requirements in the thirteen Federal Circuit Courts are complex, and often confusing. In addition to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, each Circuit Court operates under its own set of local rules—mandatory practice standards that periodically change, and sometimes conflict with the Federal Rules—and, the various Clerks’ offices often adhere to unwritten practices and preferences that are distinctive to each Court. Below is a sampling of the consultation and printing services that we offer for our Circuit Court filers.

Circuit Court Document Review

A Circuit Court document must be filed in compliance with the Court’s rules as to length, formatting, and composition. Our Circuit Court experts are intimately familiar with each Circuit’s requirements. We can carefully examine your Brief, Motion, Appendix, Addendum, or Record Excerpts for compliance to ensure that your document will be accepted by the Clerk, and filed on time.

Circuit Court Proofreading

After decades of proofreading legal documents, we can confirm one basic human principle—everyone makes mistakes. The drafter must review all of the relevant elements of the case, research the applicable law, develop a coherent theory that relates the facts to the law, reduce the theory to a succinct, persuasive narrative, and finally, prepare a type-written draft. In that process, errors of form, grammar, spelling and consistency are bound to creep in. Our teams of professional proofreaders can comb through your draft, and note any possible problems that you may want to address before you present your completed work to the Court.

Circuit Court Typesetting

When filing a Brief in the Circuit Courts, it is important for the Brief to be prepared to the very highest possible standards of refinement and style. From cover through certificates, we can format your text, proofread the copy, send you an annotated proof for review, and make your corrections. We will then print, bind, file, and serve your document. Your typeset Brief, formatted in our distinctive Cockle Style, will let the Court, counsel, and clients know that your document has been prepared with the same level of care and professionalism as the argument it presents.

Circuit Court Consultation

If all you really need is to talk with someone—an expert who knows your Circuit’s requirements inside and out—then give us a call. We can schedule a time for you to speak with a consultant who is familiar with the Circuit (usually within an hour or two). We will ask for a reasonable consultation fee, and if you later decide to use one of our other services, we will apply the fee to those costs.

Circuit Court Printing, Binding, and Shipping

After all of the research, drafting, checking, and re-writing, in most instances your work is still not complete. The document must be printed onto the page, bound with the correct color cover, and delivered to the Court and to counsel. Why not let Cockle Legal Briefs do that for you? We will print your document (single- or double-sided, depending on the rules of that Court), insert tabs when required, prepare the cover in the proper color, bind the cover and pages, and ship the copies by a method and time frame that satisfy the Court’s requirements.

Expert advice and consultation from our knowledgeable Circuit Court Document Analysts can help you avoid pitfalls. Cockle Legal Briefs has been producing top quality legal documents for over 90 years, and our staff of professionals—experienced in the unique practices of each Circuit—can help you present a timely, rule-compliant, and impeccably prepared document. Give us a call to discuss our Circuit Court services. Depending on the options you choose, we can provide a cost estimate over the telephone and schedule a time for your documents to arrive.



“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” – Mark Twain.

From the installation of a frozen-yogurt machine to verified KKK membership, the history of the United States Supreme Court and its Justices is filled with fascinating facts.

Curriculum Vitae:

  • Excluding Senate confirmation, there are no formal requirements for becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
  • 57%, or 64 out of 112 Justices, never earned a Juris Doctorate degree.
  • Harvard has produced more Justices (15) then the next three schools combined (Yale, Columbia, and Samford (no, not Stanford. Samford)).
  • Today’s Court is comprised entirely of Ivy League graduates: 5 enrolled at Harvard, three attended Yale, and one graduated from Columbia.
  • William Howard Taft is the only person to have served as both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Court.

Age is Just a Number:

  • The youngest Chief Justice ever appointed was 44 year-old John Jay.  The youngest Associate Justice ever appointed was 32 year-old Joseph Story.
  • The oldest individual to serve was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was 90 years-old when he retired from the Court.


  • There have been 112 Justices in the history of the Supreme Court.
  • Justices have served a term of 16 years on average.
  • Chief Justice John Marshal was the longest serving Chief at 34 years, 5 months, and 11 days, while Associate Justice William Douglas has the longest term in Court history at 36 years, 7 months, and 8 days.


  • Justice Hugo Black was a member of the KKK, though he later joined the Court’s majority in Brown v. Board, holding segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
  • Justice Ginsberg beat cancer twice while not missing a day of work.
  • The Ten Commandments adorn the walls of the Supreme Court building.

An Exclusive Club:

  • Jimmy Carter is the only president to serve a full term without nominating a Supreme Court justice.
  • President George Washington appointed 11 Justices, more than any other president.
  • Justice Byron White is the only Justice to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.  He was also inducted in the NFL’s Hall of Fame.
  • First Catholic Justice: Roger B. Taney.
  • First Jewish Justice: Louis Brandeis.
  • First African-American Justice: Thurgood Marshall.
  • First Hispanic Justice: Sonia Sotomayor.
  • First female Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor.


  • Justice Elena Kagan is responsible for the installation of the first frozen-yogurt machine in the Supreme Court cafeteria.
  • The top floor of the Supreme Court building houses a gym, which includes a basketball court dubbed “the highest court in the land.”
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 1 of 9 women in her 1956 graduating class at Harvard.
  • Traditionally, 20 white quill pens are placed at counsel’s tables each day while the Court is in session. After oral argument, attorneys are encouraged to keep the pens as souvenirs.

Facts obtained from the Supreme Court’s website, Oxford Univ. Press,, CNN,, The Daily Beast, The National Constitution Center, and


New Merits Brief Filed by Cockle Legal Briefs

Brief For Petitioner in Direct Mktg. Ass’n v. Brohl, No. 13-1032, filed on September 9, 2014

New Petitions Recently Filed by Cockle Legal Briefs

Montgomery v. Louisiana, filed on September 5, 2014

Bower v. Texas, filed on September 9, 2014

Verkerk v. North Carolina, filed on September 10, 2014

Acceptance Cas. Ins. Co. v. Great West Cas. Co., filed on September 10, 2014

New Petition Recently Filed By Cockle Legal Briefs

Meade v. U.S., filed August 18, 2014.

U.S. Supreme Court Merits-Stage Procedure, Part II: Document Filing

The decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court not only shape the law of the nation, but can often adjust the weave of our social fabric. To help the justices meet this weighty challenge, the Rules lay out a merits-stage process that offers sources beyond the arguments in the parties’ briefs, to provide information to the Court that is both comprehensive and concise.

docsThe Joint Appendix

The Joint Appendix is a compilation of materials from the record below. The JA is intended to be a useful guide for the justices as they consider the arguments in the case, and is not the sole reference source for the Court, which will have access to the entire record below. The parties are encouraged to confer on the content of the JA, but Rule 26.2 provides a document designation scheme if the parties are unable to agree. The petitioner is expected to pay the initial costs of preparing the JA—which, like all Supreme Court merits-stage filings, must be typeset to the Supreme Court’s exacting format—but Rule 26.3 requires the respondent to advance costs for documents that the petitioner deems unnecessary, and further, generally provides that the JA expenses are a taxable cost at the conclusion of the case. The Court can also assign JA costs as it deems appropriate. The parties might defer filing of the JA, or even be excused entirely, upon a granted motion to the Court. The cover is tan, includes both the petitioner’s and the respondent’s signature blocks, and indicates the date the petitioner filed the Petition, as well as the date the Court granted the writ.

The JA should be filed with the Petitioner’s Brief, 45 days after the Court grants the writ, however the petitioner can ask the Court for an extension of time.

Amicus Briefs

Amici can file briefs supporting either party, or neither party (an amicus supporting neither party will have the same filing deadline and cover color as an amicus supporting the petitioner). Amicus briefs are due seven days after the party being supported files its principal brief. Important note for Supreme Court merits-stage parties: litigants should avoid filing a party’s principle brief before the due date; amici in support will have scheduled their filing date for seven days after the party’s due date, and may not be able to meet a shortened filing period. Briefs supporting the petitioner are clad in a light green cover, and briefs supporting the respondent are in dark green. Supreme Court merits-stage amicus briefs are limited to 9,000 words.

The Supreme Court Merits Rule

While the U.S. Supreme Court only allows filing by paper document, all filers at the merits stage must send the Clerk a text-searchable PDF copy of the brief on the day of filing. The Court’s memo detailing the Supreme Court Merits Rule provides a specific naming convention for the PDF file, depending on the identity of the filer. The filer must send a copy to every party’s counsel of record, but this does not replace the paper service requirement. Filers are not required to serve amici who have filed in the case, but if the Solicitor General has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the government, we recommend sending the SG a courtesy copy.

With over 90 years of brief filing experience, Cockle Legal Briefs can help you navigate both the written and unwritten rules of Supreme Court merits-stage practice. Give us call to schedule your next Supreme Court filing.

New Petitions Recently Filed by Cockle Legal Briefs

Keele v. U.S., filed on August 29, 2014

Sarno v. U.S., filed on September 2, 2014

Reorganized Supreme Court Clerk’s Office

With the September 1st retirement of longtime Chief Deputy Clerk Chris Vasil, the U.S. Supreme Court has restructured its senior staff.

The position occupied by Mr. Vasil since 2002 has been abolished, and in its stead, four Deputy Clerks will continue to assist Supreme Court filers in the following capacities:

washington-supreme-court-building-washington-d-c-dc169Practice and Procedure: Jordan “Danny” Bickell, formally the Court’s Emergency Applications Clerk, has been appointed Deputy Clerk for Practice and Procedure.  He will carry out some of Mr. Vasil’s previous duties, including “the preparation of weekly conference lists, taking action on extensions of time to respond to petitions for writs of certiorari, and service as the primary point of contact for members of the Court’s bar with respect to questions of practice and procedure,” according to the Court’s announcement, available here.

Mr. Bickell will continue to perform the duties of the Emergency Applications Clerk until the Court fills the temporary vacancy.  The New York Times profiled Mr. Bickell, here.

Case Management: Cynthia Rapp will continue to serve as Deputy Clerk for Case Management.  She is an invaluable resource for original action proceedings.

Administration: Gary Kemp will continue to serve as Deputy Clerk for Administration.  He is responsible for many of the Court’s administrative functions.

Case Initiation: Jeff Atkins, formerly the Supervisor of New Cases, will now serve as Deputy Clerk for Case Initiation – though many of his job functions remain the same.  Mr. Atkins will supervise the seven case analysts who review and process new case filings.

So Sue Me! (Again): The Stages of Original Litigation at the Supreme Court

Original Actions may proceed through three distinct stages before final resolution.  The first is similar to the “petition stage” of a cert petition and the last is similar to the “merits stage.”  The second, “interim” stage, is unique.

  • Stage 1 is commenced by filing the Complaint.

The Complaint must be preceded by a Motion For Leave To File and may be accompanied by a Brief In Support of the motion.  The combined word limit for the motion and brief is 9,000 words.  There is no word limit for the complaint itself.

An Appendix is optional and has no required documents or order of documents, unlike the requirements for a cert petition.  There can also be more than one appendix — one for the motion and another for the brief.

The defendant may file a Brief in Opposition, limited to 9,000 words.  Reply and/or Supplemental Briefs, limited to 3,000 words, may also be filed.  Due dates are based on the briefing schedule noted on the docket.

Amicus briefs filed at this stage follow the same requirements as filing at the cert petition stage.  Word limit is 6,000 words.  Consent from the parties or a Motion  is required (unless the Amicus is a governmental entity).  The 10-day notice to parties is also required. Amicus briefs are due at the same time as the Brief in Opposition.

After all filing deadlines have expired, the briefs will be distributed for conference, following the Court’s customary procedure.  A decision whether to grant the Motion For Leave To File is usually announced on the next Orders List.

  • Stage 2 is commenced after the Court grants the Motion For Leave To File.

sealThis stage has no parallel to the cert petition process, except for requiring the booklet format.

Party filings at this stage have no word limit.  Filings may include motions, briefs, or responses to motions.  Recent examples are:  Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Intervene, Brief in Response to Motion to Intervene, Reply Brief.

Amicus briefs are allowed at this stage — even from Amici who filed at the earlier stage.  Amici should still follow cert petition stage requirements, although the word limit can now go to 7,500 words.

Due dates are based on the briefing schedule noted on the docket.

The original action interim stage lasts as long as needed for each case.  There can be multiple rounds of filings, and one or more distribution dates and conferences.  At some point, the Court may appoint a Special Master to step in.

The Special Master has the “authority to fix the pleadings and to direct subsequent proceedings [including the] authority to summon witnesses, issue subpoenas, and take such evidence as may be introduced and … as … may [be deemed] necessary to call for….”  Costs for the Special Master are taxed to the parties per order of the Court.

The Special Master will file one or more Reports with the Court; there is no due date.  In addition to being filed, the Report is also served on the parties.

  • Stage 3 is commenced after the Special Master’s Report is filed.

This is the merits stage in an Original Action.

Parties may file Exceptions To The Report Of The Special Master, along with a Brief In Support (customary but not required).  The word limit for the brief is 15,000 words.  There is no word limit for the exceptions themselves.

An Appendix (attached to the brief) is optional.  Unlike the merits stage of a cert filing, there is no Joint Appendix.

Reply and Sur-Reply Briefs may be filed pursuant to the briefing schedule on the docket.

Amicus briefs filed at this stage follow the same requirements as filing at the cert merits stage.  Consent from the parties or a Motion  is required (unless the Amicus is a governmental entity).  The word limit is 9,000 words.

Due dates are based on the briefing schedule noted on the docket.  Briefs are filed and served on the parties.  The Merits Rule regarding electronic filing/service applies to briefs at this stage.  Parties do not serve the Special Master.

The Court will schedule oral argument on the Exceptions and, later, issue its ruling.  However, this by no means guarantees that the case is over.  Stay tuned for a discussion of what can happen next.

For an in-depth look at Original Action litigation read our previous post, here.

New Petition Recently Filed by Cockle Legal Briefs

Brown v. U.S., filed on August 26, 2014


Articles posted in the Cockle Blog are for informational purposes only. Nothing in the Cockle Blog should be taken for legal advice. In fact, Cockle Blog articles are not a substitute for proper legal research conducted by licensed attorneys.

Cockle Blog will occasionally provide opinions on certain cases and Court procedures. These opinions should be viewed with the recognition that no one can predict with certainty how the Supreme Court will rule on particular cases. Any reliance on articles contained in Cockle Blog must be done at one's own risk.