Thursday, March 3, 2011

Insider Appellate Advice

If you missed today’s OCBA Appellate Law section meeting, you missed out on some great insider advice from the court’s newest research attorneys, Julie Bisceglia, David Hesseltine, and Kevin Phillips.  All were gracious with their time and insights, and very engaging.

Here’s a short recap of what they shared:
  • Address your brief to a generalist, someone experienced but who may not be an expert in your field.
  • Argue your best points, using your professional judgment.  Be sure to show prejudice when required.
  • Take a civil tone in your briefs; don’t personally attach the court or opposing counsel.
  • Use the computer to incorporate charts, diagrams, photos, or images of documents right in your brief, as long as the material is supported by the record.  Or attach documents to your brief pursuant to Rule 8.204(d).
  • Be scrupulous in your record citations.  Make sure every fact in your brief is supported by the record.  And say where it is in the record, by page and line number.  It’s no help to cite pages at a time.
  • Make sure trial exhibits are provided to the court.  If a party doesn’t make arrangements to send them to the court, the court won’t have them.
  • The court uses the California Style Manual when preparing opinions, you may want to do the same. Expedite our consideration of your case by filing an ebrief — “a single, PDF file (text-searchable highly preferred, but non-searchable is acceptable), no larger than 5 MB in size, [that] is an exact duplicate of the paper copy.”  See the court’s new website for the rules. .
What about the most controversial issue discussed today:  how, if ever, should you use tabs in your appendices?  I’ll have an answer for that soon.