Recent amendments to Pa.R.A.P. 1115 and 1116 will impose word count limits on petitions for allowance of appeal and answers by adverse parties. Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order of December 30, 2014, petitions and answers filed after February 28, 2015, may not exceed 9,000 words. The filing party will have to include a certification that the petition or answer complies with the word count limit, unless the document does not exceed 20 pages, in which case it shall be deemed to comply. The certification may be based on the word count of the word processing program used to prepare the petition or answer. Click here for a helpful guide to counting words in Microsoft Word. Supplementary materials, such as the cover, tables of contents and citations, proof of service and appendices, shall not count against the word count limitations.
In another order filed December 30, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court amended Pa.R.A.P. 2135 governing the length of appellate briefs. The amended rule is effective February 28, 2015. As before, a principal brief shall not exceed 14,000 words and a reply brief shall not exceed 7,000 words. The amended rule imposes a 17,500 word limit on a principal brief in a capital direct appeal, and an 8,500 word limit on a reply brief. In a first Capital Post-Conviction Relief Act appeal, the word limits will be 22,500 and 11,250 for a principal and reply brief, respectively. Counsel must include a certification that the brief complies with the word count limits if it is in excess of the stated page limits in the rule.