Judge Griffen: "I write separately to address the glaring briefing deficiencies in this appeal and to again call for electronic filing of the record and briefs in our state. Appellant’s brief consists of four volumes, including a 277-page abstract and a 684-page addendum. ...
The record and the briefs in this case illustrate the need to modernize appellate
practice in Arkansas in light of the advantages presented by information technology. The
appellate record in this case was ten volumes, totaling 1959 pages. Appellant submitted a
980-page brief. Appellee’s brief, which included an unnecessary supplemental addendum,
numbered 174 pages. Appellant filed an eighteen-page reply brief. If each party made
twenty copies of the briefs (seventeen for filing with the clerk, one for opposing counsel, one
for the circuit court, and one for that party), then the briefs and record on appeal consisted
of 25,399 pieces of paper. According to an environmental company based in San Francisco,
California, one tree makes 16.67 reams (one ream = 500 sheets) of paper. Conservatree,
How much paper can be made from a tree? (last assessed Jan. 18, 2007). Based on these calculations, the paper filed by the parties on this appeal alone has consumed almost three trees.
Of course, all the voluminous paper briefs and record must be stored someplace once they are delivered to the Justice Building in Little Rock, so some method for physically storing and retrieving them must be selected, implemented, and financed. The cost of storing and retrieving paper records and briefs must be paid from state revenue.
The costs associated with our paper method of appellate practice does not end when
the record and briefs are assembled. There is the additional cost associated with transporting
paper to Little Rock for filing. In the instant case, the office of counsel for appellant is in
West Memphis. Appellee’s counsel’s office is in Jonesboro. Those offices are each
approximately 120 miles from Little Rock. Our current method of appellate practice required
that appellant’s counsel, or someone on his behalf, travel 120 miles to pick up the
voluminous record, drive 120 miles back to West Memphis to prepare the briefs, drive 120
miles to file the briefs and return the record, then drive 120 miles back home. At that point,
appellee’s counsel, or someone on his behalf, was forced to repeat this process. The
combined approximate distance driven by or on behalf of both attorneys to process the appeal
totals 960 miles. The vehicles used for that travel may have easily consumed at least $100
worth of gasoline.
The exercise that our current system of appellate practice imposed on the parties in
this appeal is repeated for every appeal taken in Arkansas. Thus, our court rules compel
people to run up and down the highways, when gasoline prices are a constant concern for
everyone, simply to file papers associated with appeals. We are doing this in the age of the
Internet, E-Bay, electronic filing of tax returns, and electronic banking. We are requiring
litigants to pack paper across Arkansas highways even as state and federal courts across the
nation are increasingly using the Internet by electronic filing (called “e-filing”).
E-filing will undoubtedly reduce costs to parties. E-filing eliminates the costs
associated with hand delivery, messenger services, printing, photocopying, mailing, and the
fuel costs associated with shipping or driving paper records and briefs from throughout
Arkansas to Little Rock.
E-filing also will provide savings to our courts. Judges and their staffs will be able
to retrieve electronic documents quickly and easily. Under our current paper system, the
paper record is accessible only to one user at a time and in one location. Thus, anytime a
lawyer, law clerk, member of the clerk’s staff, or judge desires to examine the record, he or
she must physically locate it, retrieve it, search it, and return it, all to the exclusion of any
other potential user of the record. If Arkansas adopted an e-filing system, the record could
be lodged electronically on a secure server that could be password protected so that users
could access it instantly, simultaneously, and economically. Thus, Arkansas lawyers and the
appellate courts would reduce paper storage costs.