Monday, May 3, 2010

Appendix Alienates Appellate Court

I may never start my book, "How to Alienate Courts and Imperil Appeals," but if I do, I will devote a chapter to misguided record preparation. 

Not to improper record preparation, which violates court rules.  Not to inadequate record preparation, which omits items needed for a favorable decision.  These topics are already well-covered.

I'm going to focus on misguided record preparation, which is proper and complete in a technical sense but undermines persuasiveness. 

Presiding Justice Rushing of the Sixth DCA has given me a head start with footnote 2 of the opinion he authored in Silvaco Data Systems (Apr. 29, 2010, H032895) (thanks to Ben Shatz for pointing this out):

"Although this case was decided largely on the pleadings, it has somehow generated an appendix over 8000 pages in length. Seldom have so many trees died for so little."  He surmises "three causes for this wretched excess."  The culprits are:
  • Multiple copies of trial court documents.  We only need one copy of the demurrer, for example, even if copies are filed below repeatedly for trial court convenience.
  • Needless copies of legal authorites.  We can find these on-line, even though non-California authorities must be lodged with the trial court.
  • A 103-page index of the entire record.  An index is valuable normally, but not when it is included in each of the 27 volumes (the 27 indices make up one-third of the record).
PJ Rushing concludes, "The present case appears to be one of those rare instances when, contrary to the maxim, superfluity does vitiate."

Appellate courts want to decide cases correctly and as quickly as justice permits.  The record is our raw material.  It helps us help you when the record is proper, complete, AND accessible.