Government Taken to Task on Jurisdictional Statement Error

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By Patrick L. Gregory

Too many briefs fail to comply with federal and circuit rules concerning jurisdictional statements, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said July 10 ( Baez-Sanchez v. Sessions , 2017 BL 237573, 7th Cir., No. 17-1438, 7/10/17 ).

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s brief in an immigration dispute is an example of this problem, Chief Judge Diane P. Wood said in an in-chambers opinion.

It was Sessions’s responsibility to review the jurisdictional statement submitted by the petitioner, Jorge Baez-Sanchez, to see if it was “ both complete and correct” under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28 and Seventh Circuit Rule 28, Wood said.

But Sessions’s brief said only that the jurisdictional statement was correct, Wood said.

Sessions said “nothing about completeness, and so the brief must be returned to the Department of Justice,” Wood said.

Other common mistakes include failing to specify the constitutional provision or statute at issue “in federal question cases where jurisdiction depends on 28 U.S.C. §1331,” and failing to distinguish citizenship from residency in diversity cases, Wood said.

“There is no reason why, month after month, year after year, the court should encounter jurisdictional statements with such obvious flaws,” which impose “needless costs on everyone involved,” Wood said.

Charles Roth of Chicago represents Baez-Sanchez, the petitioner in the immigration dispute.

The Department of Justice represents the federal government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick L. Gregory in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at

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