Monday, April 21, 2014

More analogies: How to attract a Supreme Court's attention

On Friday, Law360 Appellate offered 5 Tips For Winning Over The Texas Supreme Court, a report from a program presented to the appellate sections of the Texas State Bar and Austin Bar Ass'n. Not surprisingly, the Texas Supreme Court is overworked and would appreciate well-written petitions and briefs that help the justice save time and understand the key questions quickly. The five tips apply equally in California or any appellate court, more or less. Here are some highlights:

Get to the Point - The summary of the argument section (aka "introduction") is very valuable: If written properly and concisely it can be decisive.

Amicus Should Get Involved Sooner - The court welcomes broader industry perspectives, bigger picture policy arguments, and other jurisdiction approaches. But "me too" briefs are not helpful.

Use the Word Count to Your Advantage - Large font sizes are helpful, especially since the justices often read on iPads and laptops. Consider using graphics, pictures, or diagrams, which can be very helpful to understand a point.

Don't Bury the Court with Extra Filings - The court doesn't like additional briefs, sur-replies, or post-submission briefs, which don't actually add anything useful.

Tailor Your Issues - A short issue of statement can be more effective that the Garner "deep issue" statement.

(Apart from the general applicability of the justices' comments, there actually IS a SoCal appellate connection here: One of the speakers, Justice Jeff Boyd, attended Pepperdine Law School. Ok, maybe more than merely "attended": he was EIC of the law review and won various moot court competitions and writing awards.)