Improving the quality of appellate advocacy is near and dear to the hearts of several of the Judges and Justices of our North Carolina appellate courts.  There have been a number of initiatives to further that aim of late, including the creation of a new appellate specialty, the publication of oral argument practice guides by the Appellate Rules Committee, and continual updates to the Appellate Style Manual by the same committee.

To that growing list, add the newly minted “North Carolina Court of Appeals Legal Standards Database” prepared and adopted by the Court of Appeals.  The database “is intended to provide illustrations of the wide variety of standards of review, legal tests, and general statements of law employed at the N.C. Court of Appeals.”

Just published for the first time in June 2012, the Legal Standards Database is a collection of quotes from the leading North Carolina appellate decisions organized by topic.  In the 65-page document, you can find information about the appellate process, civil and criminal pre-trial and trial issues, family law, zoning law–you name it. 

Some folks at the Court have plainly been very busy putting this database together, as it is well-organized and thorough.  In my view, the document provides a great jumping off point for any appellate or even trial court brief, and can help you quickly assess the odds of success for any appeal you are contemplating based on the standard of review (e.g., de novo review vs. abuse of discretion).  Of course, take caution not to rely too heavily on the database–your case may not fit the mold, and the mold has the potential to change shape every time the appellate courts issue new opinions. 

The Court welcomes your suggestions for the database at a dedicated email account:

–Matt Leerberg