I am not a lawyer, I am a Judgment Broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
The phrase “Pleading Papers” has two meanings. The first is the careful and important wordings and concepts that create an official motion or a response for a court matter, and this article is not about that. This article covers the other meaning of the phrase “pleading paper”, the basic formatting required for all court filings.
Every court has rules about what form all paperwork (pleading papers) must be in, before they will be accepted for filing in their court. Every state has general court rules. In California, one would search for “California rules of civil court”.
The most common pleading paper rules specify the use of fonts, spacings, colors, styles, margins, and line numbering. Other court rules cover more substantial issues such as describing records, transcripts, citing methodologies, etc.
There are many reasons for the rules and laws concerning pleading paper. One reason is to allow the court and all parties to find information quickly. Many courts require 28-line pleading paper, so everyone knows line 26 is near the bottom of the page.
Even the simplest court motion must be done on pleading paper, and follow the rules of the court. The basics of pleading paper are having 28 lines down the left side of the page, and using an easy to read font. Most courts have rules where certain things such as the court’s name must be, for example, not above the 8th line on a 28-line page.
How do you make pleading paper? If you have Microsoft Office or OpenOffice, just do a web search for “Microsoft office pleading paper”. You can find a free template that can be downloaded, opened, and then saved with most word processing programs.
After you download and save a template, make a copy of it. Open the copy, and fill in your contact information, your city and state, and what you will most often include in simple motions or notices to the court. Then use “Save As” for every new document you want to create.
I have heard that OpenOffice users get better results with the Microsoft pleading paper template, than they do when using the built-in OpenOffice pleading paper template. Another way to go, is to go to a court and ask the clerk to pull any average case file, and then to copy a page or two for you. Choose pages that demonstrate the typical formatting of pleading papers for that court.
You can also program a database, buy templates, or find other software solutions to create court-compatible pleading papers. Another option is to visit your local law library. They have books with titles such as “Practice Guides” and “Forms of Pleading and Practice”, that have examples showing how to make pleading paper, with examples of different kinds of court requests.
Some courts are amazingly picky, and some have rules unique to their court. Some require pleadings in a certain style, with attached exhibits when relevant. Some require a separate proposed order document, and do not allow proposed orders to be included in the same document that an affidavit as would be on, for example, for an affidavit of identity.
Always check the local court’s rules, and consider contacting the court clerk before you try to file something there. Some courts require you to file four copies, to get back one copy of the court-endorsed paperwork for yourself.
Occasionally, some rules of courts are not enforced. In California, the California Rules of Court requires two-page Judicial Council forms to be printed on both sides of the same sheet of paper. Most courts in California do not pay much attention to that rule.
For the few courts that do enforce that particular rule, it is usually necessary to “tumble” the pages, with the second side being “upside-down”, relative to the first side. The reason for this, is so that when the documents are pinned at the top, both sides of each page can be viewed, without having to rotate the physical file itself.