There is one thing the pandemic has managed to not stop — the annual July 1 rules update from the Ohio Supreme Court. This year, there were changes to the Civil, Criminal, Appellate, and Juvenile Rules of Procedure. All of the changes can be viewed here.

There were two amendments of interest in the Rules of Appellate Procedure. One addresses cross-appeals, and the other addresses page limitations in briefs.

Cross-appeals are more clearly defined

Rule 3(C) was modified to address when a cross-appeal was required. The necessity of cross-appeals have always been a challenging question for appellate lawyers (is it really a cross-appeal or is it an “alternative grounds for affirmance?”).

As an initial matter, App.R. 3(C) removes the language of “judgment or order” to just “order.” Although there is no staff commentary to this amendment, the Staff Note to the July 1, 2014 amendment to App.R. 4(A) (which also had the change) addresses the issue stating the “change is not substantive, but merely recognizes there is no need to use both terms, since every judgment is also a final order.”

App.R. 3(C)(1)’s changes now directly addresses when a cross-appeal is required:

Whether or not an appellee intends to defend an order on appeal, an appellee who seeks to change the order or, in the event the order is reversed or modified, an interlocutory ruling merged into the order, shall file a notice of cross appeal…

App.R. 3(C)(2) has been modified to state that a “cross-assignment of error” is never required. This is to expressly reverse by rulemaking language in R.C. 2505.22, which contemplates cross-assignments of error.

The cross-appeal is now (more?) clearly defined: if an appellee wishes to change the order or any other order merged into the order, a cross-appeal is necessary to preserve the issue.

Page limits are shortened?

The other amendment this year was to App.R. 19(A) regarding brief length. Previously the initial and answer briefs could be up to 35 pages in length containing no more than 15,300 words. This has been adjusted to 9,000 words and “30 pages in length at 12-point font.”

All of which begs the question — which font?

As always, best practice is to review the rules before you act on them.