EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.
The first thing an appellate judge does after picking up the briefs of an appeal is read the district judge's explanation for the decision under challenge. It is impossible to evaluate the challenge — sometimes impossible even to understand it — without knowing why the district court acted as it did. See Hill v. Porter Memorial Hospital, 90 F.3d 220, 225-26 (7th Cir.1996). What the appellant's brief says about the reasons for the decision under review may be incomplete or slanted; it is essential to get the district court's explanation in its own words. Yet many appellate judges read the briefs without having access to the record. Half of the
This supplements Fed.R.App. P. 30(a) in several ways: (i) it specifies that counsel must furnish not only judgments and orders but also "findings of fact and conclusions of law, or oral statement of reasons delivered by the trial court or administrative agency"; (ii) it demands not only the explanations directly supporting the judgment but also "[c]opies of any other opinions or orders in the case that address the issues sought to be raised" and "portions of the transcript that are important to a consideration of the issues", which includes (for example) explanations for evidentiary rulings, if those rulings come under attack in this court; (iii) it requires counsel to certify compliance. Because the clerk's office does not know which materials in a given case are required by this rule, the certificate required by Circuit Rule 30(c) is the key to filing a brief. The clerk's office will reject any brief lacking the required statement, but if the representation is present the clerk's office will not look behind it.
An appellant who files the brief with the aid of a false representation is at risk of summary affirmance. See, e.g., Urso v. United States, 72 F.3d 59, 61 (7th Cir.1995); Mortell v. Mortell Co., 887 F.2d 1322, 1327 (7th Cir.1989). This severe penalty is justified in part by the vital function of Rule 30 and in part because a default cannot be inadvertent. A lawyer unaware of Circuit Rule 30 will find out about it when the clerk's office returns the brief for lack of the Rule 30(c) statement,
A client aggrieved by summary affirmance in a civil case may obtain recompense from the errant lawyer. See Pioneer Investment Services Co. v. Brunswick Associates Limited Partnership, 507 U.S. 380, 396-97, 113 S.Ct. 1489, 1499, 123 L.Ed.2d 74 (1993); United States v. 7108 West Grand Avenue, 15 F.3d 632 (7th Cir.1994). In criminal and immigration cases, however, money does not supply a way to balance the accounts between client and counsel. We have therefore declined to dismiss or affirm in these cases, although we have occasionally chastised counsel along the way. See Guentchev v. INS, 77 F.3d 1036, 1039 (7th Cir.1996); United States v. Gomez, 24 F.3d 924, 928-30 (7th Cir.1994); United States v. Smith, 953 F.2d 1060, 1068 (7th Cir.1992); United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490, 495-96 (7th Cir.1989). A reprimand has been the response of choice in some civil cases too, when affirmance seemed an excessive sanction — or was no sanction, because the appeal had no hope of success. E.g., Hill, supra; Avitia v. Metropolitan Club of Chicago, Inc., 49 F.3d 1219, 1224 (7th Cir.1995).
Risk of dismissal has produced substantial compliance in civil appeals. Unfortunately, the lack of an effective sanction in criminal cases has led counsel to be careless, or, worse, to behave strategically — to omit the district court's reasons in the hope that silence will make the district court's decision look unsupported. Compliance with Rule 30 in criminal cases is poor. Six criminal appeals were set for oral argument before this panel last July 10. In four of the six cases, counsel for the appellant violated Rule 30. In two of these four cases, counsel also violated Circuit Rule 28(d)(2), which provides: "No fact shall be stated in the statement of facts unless it is supported by a reference to the page or pages of the record or the appendix where that fact appears." Knowledge of the district court's reasons and the ability to find disputed material in the record are especially important in criminal appeals, for the most common appellate issues — the length of sentence, the admission or exclusion of evidence, rulings on joinder and severance, jury selection and control-require this court to respect reasoned decisions by the district judge. See Koon v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, ___-___, 116 S.Ct. 2035, 2044-47, 135 L.Ed.2d 392 (1996); Zafiro v. United States, 506 U.S. 534, 541, 113 S.Ct. 933, 939, 122 L.Ed.2d 317 (1993); United States v. Beasley, 809 F.2d 1273, 1278-79 (7th Cir. 1987). Deferential review is impossible when the court of appeals is in the dark about how the district court exercised its discretion, and why.
After deciding the cases on the merits, we issued orders requiring the attorneys to show cause why they should not be disciplined under Fed.R.App. P. 46(c) for their violations of the rules and their false representations to the court. The responses have been received; none of the four asked for a hearing, so the disciplinary proceedings are ready for decision. All four lawyers concede noncompliance with Rule 30. The question, therefore, is what disposition is appropriate.
Reminders have not sufficed to induce attorneys to comply with Rule 30, although it is the most important rule this court has issued. Unfiltered knowledge of the district court's reasons is vital if a court of appeals is to do its job. Disappointment at the failure of exhortations (and even summary affirmances) led the panel in Hill to fine counsel $1,000 on the authority of Fed.R.App. P. 46(c).
A similar disposition could be appropriate here too, although we hesitate to impose on lawyers who serve under the Criminal Justice Act fines that may approximate their full compensation for handling the appeal. When meting out sanctions, we bear in mind that there is an element of public service in the representation of the accused in criminal cases, and we do not want to thin the ranks of volunteers. Nonetheless, rules must be enforced — especially when violation entails misrepresentation to the court. We therefore have decided that fines will be used
For the benefit of the bar, we take this opportunity to emphasize that under Rule 30 the appellant (including a cross-appellant) must include in the appendix all of the district court's pertinent reasoning. This includes:
We hope that this warning, and the elaboration of the scope of counsel's obligation, will increase compliance with Rule 30 and so improve the ability of this court to decide cases quickly and correctly.