Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Thinking outside the American appellate box"

That's the title of today's Moskovitz on Appeals column in the DJ, continuing a comparison of American versus British appellate procedures. Of particular interest is discussion of an experiment in the 3d District decades ago:
Image result for outside the boxone California appellate court actually did adopt a modified version of the British practice. In 1981, the 3rd District Court of Appeal (in Sacramento) selected a handful of civil appeals (each had very few issues) for an "expedited" program that limited argument in briefs to 10 pages. Oral argument took place 30 days after the briefs were filed - with no limit on how long a lawyer could argue. Most of the lawyers were quite happy with it, because it cut brief-writing time and cut the time needed to prepare for oral argument (because the case was still fresh in their minds), resulting in savings to clients. And they were delighted that disposition time (from filing notice of appeal to ruling) dropped by over 40 percent. The judges liked it because the briefs were more concise and focused on the one or two issues that mattered, and the oral argument usually did not end up taking more time than the usual 30-minutes allotted for non-expedited cases. The judges found that the oral argument was conducted at a higher intellectual level, and the program did not increase the total time they spent on a case. See Chapper & Hanson, "Expedited Procedures For Appellate Courts: Evidence FromCalifornia's Third District Court of Appeal," 42 Md. L. Rev. 696 (1983). The program ended not from want of success, but because the judge overseeing it had retired.
Maybe it's time for another experiment. 

On Thursday, Feb. 23 (1 p.m. CST) DRI's Appellate Advocacy Committee presents Washington v. Trump: Insights from Appellate Specialists, a on-hour teleconference discussing proceedings in the 9th Circuit. "Hear nationally recognized appellate practitioners comment on the unique procedural posture of the case, discuss oral argument techniques employed by the advocates, and provide insight on the Judges’ questions and the argument as a whole." DRI's March webcast will be Appellate Counsel at Trial: Protecting the Record and Putting Your Best Foot Forward.

The 2d DCA's Justices webpage has finally been updated to remove APJ Boren, and now reflects vacancies in Divisions 2, 3, 5, and 7.