Update: On March 1, 2011, the Texas Supreme Court issued some new rules designed to standardize these procedures.
In preparing for an upcoming CLE talk, I set out to compile a chart of the current e-brief rules in each of Texas’s fourteen intermediate courts of appeals. To do this, I went through each court’s website and published internal operating procedures (IOPs), where those were available.
Of the fourteen courts, twelve of their websites mention electronic briefs in some form. Among those:
In three, an electronic brief is either required or made a strong suggestion: the Fifth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Courts.
In three more, an electronic brief is requested: the Second, Third, and Seventh Courts.
In four others, electronic briefs are accepted: the Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, and Thirteenth Courts.
And two say that they don’t yet receive them: the Sixth and Eleventh Courts.
I’ve posted the detailed breakdown by court. (( Over time, I’d also like to get some clarification from a few of these courts; I think the websites might be lagging behind their current practices. ))
There are some differences under each court’s rules about what items they permit to be included in the PDF or on the CD-ROM. (The Tenth Court, notably, prohibits any record pages from being included. On the other hand, the Tenth Court — like the Texas Supreme Court — is already publishing these e-briefs online for the public. Its rule about record pages seems to reflect a concern about redacting sensitive material, which the Texas Supreme Court chose to address instead through a strict redaction policy.)
The language of these policies also varies with regard to hyperlinking. No courts prohibit internal bookmarks or hyperlinks within the document. Some courts say that external hyperlinks can only be pointed at resources that would have been proper appendix items under TRAP 38.
As the Texas appellate courts move closer to a statewide e-filing system, we can expect these rules to become more uniform. Until then, appellate lawyers who want to file electronic briefs will have to watch the local practices carefully. But the same e-brief techniques you use for the Texas Supreme Court should work just fine to create helpful briefs for these other courts as well.