Judge Catches BP Counsel Sneaking Extra Pages into Its Brief

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Legal Ethics, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Public

BPIn a new twist on the BP litigation, BP filed a brief in a Louisiana federal court that seemed to comply with the already-enlarged 35-page limit. But the judge in the case, the Hon. Carl Barbier, uncovered BP counsel’s tactic of reducing the line spacing to cram more material into the brief than the page limit would have allowed. In this way, BP was able to fit in an extra 6 pages worth of material.

Judge Barbier had this to say about BP’s brief:

The Court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules—particularly in a case as massive and complex as this. Counsel are expected to follow the Court’s orders both in letter and in spirit. The Court should not have to resort to imposing character limits, etc., to ensure compliance. Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.

This comment comes after the court’s recent ruling that BP acted with gross negligence in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. BP is appealing that decision.

In a footnote, Judge Barbier provides more details about how he unearthed BP’s page limit violations:

Page 2 of BP’s brief (CM/ECF page no. 10, Rec. Doc. 13269) provides a clear example. That page contains only text—no headings, footnotes, block quotes, double-returns, etc. There are 27 lines of text. A double-spaced page, with 12 point font and 1 inch margins should have only 23 lines. Multiplied across 35 pages, BP granted itself approximately 140 extra lines of text, or 6 extra pages (140/23 = 6.09).

 

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