Feeds

Avoid MS Word, US appelate judges warn lawyers

Use WordPerfect, Illinois court told

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.