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Cursive! Foiled Again

Posted on Nov. 22, 2021

Bob Kamman provided another Tax Court order worth a brief mention but mostly worth the great title that he also provided. Here, the parties use the wrong font for the petitioner’s signature and the Court sends the decision back to be redone.

While this may seem picky, there’s a slippery slope that the Court avoids with the seemingly picky enforcement of the rules.  Before the adoption of the font rules but faced with a page limitation, I know of one Chief Counsel attorney who submitted a brief with a small font and narrow page margins in order to express the full merits of the government’s case.  Actions like that cause reactions and the order today keeps the parties from moving away from strict guidelines designed to make the rules the same for everyone.  While it may not really matter whether the font used is cursive or not, once the Court stops policing this type of font fault others will surely follow.

Decision documents are almost always prepared by IRS Chief Counsel attorneys. So, that part of this wrong use of the font surprises me a bit. Because these documents are almost always prepared by one party and because that party knows the rules even though many petitioners and petitioners’ counsel do not, the standardization usually occurs through this process.

In my first year of practice before the Tax Court as a new Chief Counsel attorney, I had a decision document returned for a different though still memorable reason.  This was back before computers and easy to correct documents, though the mistake had nothing to do with computers and everything with me, and I suspect my secretary, not exactly knowing what we were doing as we were both too new to do anything other than follow the example in the book we were provided without thinking about spacing.

I submitted a decision document in which the typed name of the judge came either immediately below or almost immediately below the last line of the decision. No room really existed for the judge to sign above their name. The document came back to me to prepare another decision document that had sufficient room for the judge to sign in the normal spot and not place their signature below their name or to the side of their name or write their signature in microscopic letters. In the process I learned the reason for the decision document and that the fact that the petitioner and my boss had signed it was not the end of the line. A good lesson that typing the document inaccurately seared into my memory.

Here is the order returning the decision document that contained the offending font:

Magda Helene Polack,  Petitioner

v.

Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Respondent

Docket No. 22554-21S

ORDER

On November 10, 2021, the parties filed a proposed stipulated decision for the Court’s consideration. Upon review thereof, the Court notes that petitioner’s signature on the proposed decision was made using cursive font, which is not acceptable by the Court. Information regarding acceptable imaged or digitized signatures is available on the Court’s website under the “Case Management” section of the “Frequently Asked Questions About DAWSON” available at www.ustaxcourt.gov/dawson_faqs.html.

For cause, it is

ORDERED that the parties’ proposed stipulated decision, filed November 10, 2021, is hereby deemed stricken from the Court’s record in this case. It is further

ORDERED that, on or before December 14, 2021, the parties shall file a revised proposed stipulated decision.

(Signed) Maurice B. Foley

Chief Judge

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