Best format for court filings?
July 11, 2012 3:36 PM   Subscribe

Best text formatting for legal filings?

This appeared a while back I think, but I can't find it. It was someone's preferred fonts and formats for filing legal papers -- with the petitioner and the respondent on the left, the document description on the right. Court and judge up top, etc. Someone had a not exactly typical, but typical enough, classy layout. What was that, or what do you recommend for the papers I'm filing? Civil court, NYC, ordinary filings to the judge.
posted by StickyCarpet to Law & Government (11 answers total)
You're asking what the caption is supposed to look like?

Take a look at a filing. Filings are a matter of public record, and you can look at them if you want to. I guarantee you, 90% of the filings are going to be formatted identically. The others are either from lawyers who are getting cute or from non-lawyers, neither of which tend to be appreciated by the Court.

Also, spend some time at the New York State Supreme Court website*. You may need to file electronically.

Better yet? Go down to the courthouse and talk to one of the clerks. They'll talk to you about how to file a lawsuit. It's not obvious, but it's their job to do that sort of thing.

But your best bet? Hire a lawyer. Just do it.

*Trial courts in New York are called "supreme courts". The court of last resort is called the "New York Court of Appeals."
posted by valkyryn at 4:06 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

In my state, the formatting requirements are listed in the court rules. There will probably be a link to the rules on the court's website.
posted by Safiya at 4:09 PM on July 11, 2012

You might be thinking of Typography for Lawyers
posted by exogenous at 4:11 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Wow, that typography for lawyers website has a lot of great text formatting tips for any type of document.
posted by fuq at 4:39 PM on July 11, 2012

Follow the Court rules.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:48 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Follow the Court rules.
posted by Ironmouth

Of course. What I recall was something very close to ordinary, with some classy partial bolding and whatnot. I'm off to exogenous' Typography for Lawyers now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2012

"Typography for Lawyers" was good for a minute, until they wanted me to pay $120 for a single user license to the font, "Equitable."
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:32 PM on July 11, 2012

Absolutely talk to the clerks. They can't give you legal advice but they can certainly tell you how to format your pleadings.
posted by moammargaret at 6:04 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Times New Roman at 12 point is actually required by some jurisdictions. You certainly won't get in trouble for using it.
posted by valkyryn at 5:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only rules I'm aware of for civil court are really minimal and contained in CPLR Rule 2101. I've been practicing in NYC's housing courts for almost 8 years, and I can't imagine the chaos that would ensue if a specific font were required.
posted by Mavri at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

In federal court, I often email chambers and ask for the judge's preferences.
posted by Dignan at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2012

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