Counsel Press is now enhancing federal appellate CM/ECF e-filings with powerful hyperlinks directly to the underlying record or appendix contained within the PACER system. CP’s eBrief team has been working with hyperlink technology before e-filing was even an option and now offers a powerful new way to present your argument and control costs. While a CP eBrief is still the most complete and effective way to present every bit of briefing and relevant material to the Court, this new option can be used in every case you file in the federal appellate courts.
All hyperlinks are not the same. To oversimplify, a hyperlink is a bit of code associated with some text contained in the brief that, when you click on it, takes you somewhere else. Most firms will be familiar with internal document hyperlinks. Those links take you somewhere else in the document. I see them used most frequently on tables of contents entries in briefs where we add the links so the reader can jump to a particular argument or other heading from the table of contents. These have the advantage of being self-contained, work on any platform and are quick and inexpensive to create. Also, if you have a statutory addendum, we can link statutory cites in a brief directly to those pages. We can even take advantage of the attachment features in a pdf to add other separate documents, which are attached to the main file, that can also be linked. These internal hyperlinks are useful, but, in some cases, bookmarks give you a better result for something like a table of contents link. Internal hyperlinks have the disadvantage of moving the judge off the argument being read and further into the pdf documents. There is a better method that we call cross-document hyperlinking.
Cross-document hyperlinks are those that go outside the document. We use them in federal filings on the PACER system to link brief citations directly to the cited document within the district court file. We can usually set those links to open to the pinpoint cites, or exact page of the document you are citing. Even better, these links can be set to open the referenced document in a window next to the brief (like our eBrief links.) The judges can read your brief with the referenced authority open at the same time, rather than being pulled into a different document altogether. For cases using a deferred appendix or in those where the appellant has already filed the appendix, we can create links that open the appendix directly to the cited page, for any party, especially the appellee. Links to other briefs, filed within the PACER system, also open those briefs. These cross-document links leverage existing technology in new ways to help you guide the reader directly to the material you want them to view, when you want them to view it. The judge will not have to hunt for the cited material in the underlying record or flip through an appendix to find the referenced page. Similarly, we can create cross-document hyperlinks for citations to case law found on some of the reporting services.
There are some limitations to cross-document hyperlinks working correctly on certain operating systems and there might be a layer of costs associated with accessing the information from wherever it resides, if your reader must pay PACER document fees. (For example, PACER does charge a firm to access a document before it will open a link, but federal court personnel, including judges, do not pay fees to view PACER documents.) The benefits and limited costs associated with our cross-document hyperlinked brief give litigants a very powerful presentation tool that meets most budgets.
Our client firms depend on our staff counsel and appellate support staff to stay on top of technologies that keep their briefs and appendices looking and functioning as good as they read. We are constantly looking for better ways to present a firm’s appendix or supporting material to the Court to ensure that the judges have easy access to the information the firms want them to view. I will follow-up with some other exciting ways for you to get the most of electronic filings. Look for some upcoming posts on e-publishing and submitting multimedia with your pdf briefs.