Law Firms

Susman Godfrey is sanctioned for wrong line spacing in brief

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A federal judge in Manhattan has fined Susman Godfrey $1,048.09 for wrong spacing in a brief that allowed the law firm to cram more words into its argument on behalf of Amazon Web Services Inc.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the law firm used 24-point spacing, rather than double spacing, allowing it to exceed the court’s 25-page limit, Law360 (sub. req.) reports.

According to Marrero, the court’s individual rules of practice require all memoranda to be “double-spaced and in 12-point font with 1-inch margins.”

Marrero said in the suit (PDF) that “the flouting of this court’s individual rules” was a deliberate choice by the law firm “to gain some slight advantage in this litigation.” The sanction amounted to the cost of filing a new document that complied with court rules.

Amazon Web Services Inc. is a defendant in a trademark infringement and unfair competition suit filed by CafeX Communications Inc. The suit claims Amazon called its new collaboration software “Chime” even though CafeX already was using the name for its own collaboration software.

A Susman Godfrey spokesperson did not comment in response to an ABA Journal email.

Susman Godfrey isn’t the first law firm to have trouble with a judge’s line spacing requirements. A federal judge in Louisiana took lawyers to task in 2014 for slightly squeezing the spacing between the lines. A Medium blog post and a story commenting on that decision point out that, in the old days of typewriters, single spaced type had 12 points per line and double spaced had 24 points a line. But “double spaced” in many word processing programs adds even more breathing room, which reduces the number of lines per page.

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