August 23, 2011

Responding in the appellate courts might cost you

The Legislature last week sent to the Governor a bill that, among other things, would impose fees on parties filing responsive documents in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Want to file a respondent’s brief? If the governor signs the bill, you’ll have to pay $325 for the privilege. And if you then win in the Court of Appeal and the appellant petitions the Supreme Court for review, you’ll have to pay another $325 to answer the petition. (Actually, you might have to pay the $325 before filing your respondent’s brief or answer to petition for review, because the bill requires the fee for the “filing of [a responding party’s] first document” and a party might file an extension application or an association of counsel before a substantive document.) There are to be $325 fees also for responding to writ petitions in the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.

The bill is designed to raise additional money for a state judiciary savaged by the Legislature’s budget cuts. A Senate report calls the bill’s provisions “mitigation measures to the Judicial Branch intended to help keep courts open” and estimates that the new responsive fees will generate $731,000. The report says that “[a]ppellate courts are disproportionately impacted by the budget reductions, as past court budget mitigation has focused on offsetting impacts to trial courts.”

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