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Using Word 2010 to redline documents for amended pleadings

Technology should make our lives easier. Properly harnessed, it can do just that. Left to its own devices, however, it’s less “Star Trek” and more like the worst parts of “The Matrix” — you remember, the scary part with computers and machines taking over our lives. Here’s one Word 2010 tip that will make your life easier.

Rule 2-341(e) of the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure requires:

Highlighting of Amendments.  Unless the court orders otherwise, a party filing an amended pleading also shall file at the same time a comparison copy of the amended pleading showing by lining through or enclosing in brackets material that has been stricken and by underlining or setting forth in bold-faced type new material.

(Curiously, this rule, based on Local Rule 103(6)(c) of the Rules of the United States District Court of the District of Maryland, applies to circuit court cases but there is no counterpart for district court cases. Perhaps the Rules Committee figures that district court practice is too fast-paced to warrant this protocol. I bet if they knew how easy it was to comply, they would change their tune.)

Some people try to do this manually — going through a pleading, selecting a portion to be excised, right-clicking it, selecting Font, and then clicking strikethrough to show a deletion. But try doing that in a 100-paragraph pleading.

If you want an easier way, this is it:

— Find your original pleading. Open it up.

— Under the File menu tab, click Save as. Name it something easy, like “P AMD Complaint (02-28-12)”

— In the Review tab, click Show Markup. This will allow you to choose what revisions show up in the new document.  I put checkmarks next to Comments, Ink, Insertions and Deletions.

(You might choose formatting, too, though those changes appear in balloons to the right of the document, which can appear unwieldy.  I’m not aware of any courts that have taken a position on revealing changes in document formatting.)

— Also in the Show Markup button, move your mouse to the Balloons button and click the third option — Show only Comments and Formatting in Balloons. This way, most changes will appear in the document itself.

—  Set your options by clicking the small arrow on the Track Changes button, and then clicking Change Tracking Options.

— In the Options menu, make your changes as dictated by your court Rules.  The options I use for Maryland state courts are:

— Click OK.

— Make sure the Track Changes button is pushed (it should be yellow while it is activated).

— Make changes to your pleading.

— To print the version showing changes, click Final: Show Markup from the Review menu.

— To print the final, clean copy, click Final from the Review menu (it is an option from the Final: Show Markup drop-down menu).

— Open up the amended pleading.

— In the Review menu tab, click Compare and select the Compare (not Combine) option.

— Identify the original and revised document where indicated.  Click the More button for more options (the settings I use are below). Click OK.

Let’s suppose you forgot to track changes as you were making them, and now you have two documents — the original pleading and the amended pleading.  There is a way to create a redlined copy by comparing the two.

You will get a new document that simultaneously features the compared document, the new document and the revised document, along with a summary of revisions.

Close out the original and revised document, leaving only the Compared Document.  Save it (something like “Complaint (redline)(02-28-12)”) and print.

One comment

  1. Or you could be a family lawyer, where this rule is regularly ignored!