Kentucky Adopts New Rules of Appellate Procedure



By: Christina L. Vessels

Effective January 1, 2023, Kentucky has new, stand-alone appellate rules embodied in the Kentucky Rules of Appellate Procedure (“RAP”).  The prior rules governing appeal, found in Rules 72 – 76 of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, have been deleted and wholly replaced by the RAP.  

The RAP represent a complete overhaul of the rules, and they have remedied any disjoint in the prior rules by combining related procedural elements into single rules so that the proper process of each step of an appeal is easier to follow.  The RAP also incorporate new elements that will be helpful in the eventual move to future e-filing of appeals.  A couple of highlights are noted to exemplify some of the important updates that have been made, but the entirety of these new rules are undoubtedly a must-read for any Kentucky appellate practitioner.  

RAP 15 transitions to page and word count limitations from the prior page limit only rule.  For instance, under the prior 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.  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 (as set forth within the rules) according to the word processing system used to prepare the document.  RAP 31 also provides directives as to the font size and typeface to be used, among other updates.   

RAP 42 provides updated mandates to attorneys as to the proper use and citation of unpublished opinions both from Kentucky courts and from other jurisdictions.  That guidance is something that even non-appellate practitioners should pay heed to, 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Rule 76.28(4) of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure) in considering the appropriate weight to be afforded to such unpublished authority.   

For more information on this topic contact Christina Vessels or your local FMG attorney.