When you appeal from a trial court in Mississippi, you’re allowed to file a 50-page brief (or longer, if you get the court to allow it). Your opponent can file a 50-page brief. And then you get 25 pages for a reply brief.
Whichever side loses, gets to file a motion for rehearing. Under MRAP 40, this is not supposed to simply be the-same-argument-but-louder.
The motion shall state with particularity the points of law or fact which, in the opinion of the movant, the court has overlooked or misapprehended and shall contain such argument in support of the motion as movant desires to present. The motion for rehearing should be used to call attention to specific errors of law or fact which the opinion is thought to contain; the motion for rehearing is not intended to afford an opportunity for a mere repetition of the argument already considered by the court.
This motion is also a prerequisite to anyone aggrieved by a decision of the state Court of Appeals who wants to take his case to the state Supreme Court; you can’t be reviewed on certiorari unless the COA has moved for rehearing.
These motions can take months or years to be heard, and we suspect it probably doesn’t help that the rules allow them to be 25 pages long. Invariably, our advice on drafting a motion for rehearing is to get it clear in the very first paragraph what the opinion supposedly got wrong. Does anyone really need 25 pages to say what’s wrong with an opinion that was probably shorter than that?
The Fifth Circuit requires motions for rehearing to be no more than 15 pages. A petition for certiorari to the MSSC has to be no more than 10 pages. Would 10 or 15 pages be a more appropriate maximum length for a rehearing motion, where you’ve got the original briefs available to cite (“see the argument at pages 21-22″)? In the rare event that a longer motion was truly needed, one could apply for more pages, just as with a brief.