Feeds

Avoid MS Word, US appelate judges warn lawyers

Use WordPerfect, Illinois court told

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

MS Word has been condemned by three US Court of Appeals judges for giving an incorrect word count. Rule 32 of the appeal procedure requires briefs to be no more than 14,000 words (and reply briefs 7000 words), but the hapless party to an otherwise irrelevant case in the Northern District of Illinois was castigated for a false certificate to the court that a brief was 13,824 words long. Rule 32 says that headings, footnotes, quotations etc. count toward the word and line limitations. It turned out there were 15,056 words according to WordPerfect. The faulty product was MS Word 97, which has an option to include footnotes if invoked -- except that it is dimmed and cannot be used if any text is selected, so the count is for the number of words excluding footnotes. This is a problem because the corporate disclosure statement, the table of contents, the table of citations, and the like do not count towards the word limit, so selecting text is essential. It's a bug, of course, although we shall probably be told it is a feature. The judges said: "Current versions of Corel WordPerfect (for both Windows and Macintosh platforms) do not have this problem. WordPerfect does what lawyers may suppose that Word does (or should do): it automatically includes footnotes in its word and character counts." The endorsement of WP continued: "Lawyers who produce their documents with WordPerfect software have an easy job of things under Rule 32." So far as the future is concerned, "Long-run solutions to this problem [Ha! Claiming it's a "feature" and not a "problem" could be contempt of court] must come either from Microsoft Corporation -- which ought to make it possible to obtain a count of words in footnotes attached to a selected text... We will send copies of this Opinion to those responsible... flag this issue in the court's Practitioner's Guide... law firms should alert their staffs to the issue... our clerk's office will spot-check briefs that have been prepared on Microsoft Word." The Opinion concluded: "Counsel who use Word are not entitled to a litigating advantage over those who use WordPerfect." Quite. They deserve our sympathy, though. No wonder Sullivan & Cromwell, Microsoft's lawyers', use WordPerfect: they knew all along that they's have a lot of words to count for the Court of Appeals, and didn't want to look any sillier than necessary. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.