Effective January 1, 2023, Kentucky has introduced new, stand-alone appellate rules that replace the previous rules governing appeal found in Rules 72-76 of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure. The new rules, known as the Kentucky Rules of Appellate Procedure (RAP), represent a complete overhaul of the previous rules, making the process of appealing a decision more straightforward and streamlined.
One of the major changes introduced by the RAP is the combination of related procedural elements into single rules. This eliminates any disjointedness in the previous rules and makes it easier for Kentucky appellate practitioners to follow the proper process of each step of an appeal.
The RAP also incorporate new elements that will be helpful in the eventual move to future e-filing of appeals. This forward-thinking approach demonstrates Kentucky’s commitment to modernizing the legal system to keep up with technological advancements.
One significant update introduced by the RAP is RAP 15, which transitions to page and word count limitations from the prior page limit-only rule. Under the previous Rule 76.12 of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, principal briefs to the Court of Appeals were previously limited to 25 pages, excluding certain items like the introduction, statement of points and authorities, and appendix. However, under the new RAP 31, principal briefs to the Court of Appeals, if computer-generated, are limited to 20 pages or 8,750 words. If the brief is greater than 20 pages but within the 8,750-word count, attorneys are required, pursuant to RAP 15, to include a word count certification with their brief that provides the exact word count of the substantive portions of the brief.
RAP 31 also provides directives as to the font size and typeface to be used, among other updates. These changes will help attorneys to create briefs that are easier to read and more accessible for all parties involved.
Another important update is RAP 42, which provides updated mandates to attorneys as to the proper use and citation of unpublished opinions from Kentucky courts and other jurisdictions. Even non-appellate practitioners should pay heed to this guidance, as trial courts have looked to the previous iteration of that rule (prior Rule 76.28(4) of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure) in considering the appropriate weight to be afforded to such unpublished authority.
In conclusion, the new Kentucky Rules of Appellate Procedure represent a significant change for appellate practitioners in Kentucky. While the changes may take some time to get used to, they ultimately aim to create a more streamlined and efficient appeals process for all parties involved. It is crucial for Kentucky appellate practitioners to familiarize themselves with the new rules to ensure they are prepared for any appeals filed after January 1, 2023.