Both the Federal Rules of Appellate procedure and the Louisiana Uniform Rules for Courts of Appeal include detailed rules governing the form and content of briefs. Both sets of rules contain, among other things, detailed requirements for the brief’s jurisdictional statement. In essence, both sets of rules require the brief only only to say that the court has jurisdiction, but also to prove jurisdiction, with citations to specific statutes establishing jurisdiction and citations to the parts of the record establishing jurisdictional facts (e.g., finality of judgment being appealed, timeliness of the appeal).
What happens when parties fail to heed these rules? In Louisiana, the offending party may have its brief rejected and may be ordered to file a corrected brief. The same goes in the U.S. Fifth Circuit. We’re relatively lucky. The U.S. Seventh Circuit is less tolerant, especially when it comes to jurisdictional statements in both appellants’ and appellees’ briefs. Consider these cases:
- In a diversity case, the appellant’s jurisdictional statement failed to properly allege the citizenshihps of two party corporations. The appellees’ jurisdictional statement failed to correct the appellants’ error, saying instead that the appellant’s statement was complete. Counsel for both sides were publicly reprimanded in a published opinion. Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Eastern Atlantic Co., 260 F.3d 742, 747–48 (7th Cir. 2001).
- A pro se plaintiff-appellant’s brief failed to include a jurisdictional statement. The defendants-appellees’ jurisdictional statement said only that the district court had diversity jurisdiction but failed properly state the parties’ citizenships. The court ordered the defendants-appellees’ counsel to show cause why they shouldn’t be sanctioned. Meyerson v. Harrah's East Chicago Casino, 299 F.3d 616, 617–18 (7th Cir. 2002).
- Both sides’ jurisdictional statements failed to allege the parties’ citizenships. Although the court didn’t sanction them, it described their “insouciance about jurisdiction” as “unprofessional.” Wise v. Wachovia Securities, LLC, 450 F.3d 265, 266–67 (7th Cir. 2002).
- Finding both sides’ jurisdictional statements to be insufficient, the court described their briefing as “malpractice” and ordered both sides’ counsel to show cause why they shouldn’t be sanctioned. Smoot v. Mazda Motors of America, Inc., 469 F.3d 675, 676–78 (7th Cir. 2006).
- In one appeal, the appellee’s brief said that the appellant’s jurisdicitonal statement was “correct,” but failed to state whether it was “complete.” In another appeal, the appellee’s brief said that the appellant’s jurisdictional statement was “complete,” but failed to state whether it was “correct.” Both briefs violated a local rule requiring the appellee to state whether the appellant’s jurisdictional statement was both complete and correct. The chief judge ordered both appellees’ briefs to be stricken and ordered the appellees to file new briefs with adequate jurisdictional statements. Baez-Sanchez v. Sessions and Bishop v. Air Line Pilots Ass’n, 862 F..3d 638 (7th Cir. 2017).