COVID-19 interrupted the plans of many North Carolina law students.  In-person classes (Cancelled).  Students (Sent home).  Summer internships (Postponed, shortened, or cancelled).

In the midst of these upheavals, the Court of Appeals showed aspiring advocates how to turn lemons into lemonade.  Judges Richard Dietz and Phil Berger, Jr. created a five-week, no-cost, online seminar for law students.  The topic?  North Carolina appellate practice and procedure. … Continue Reading

breaking newsBack in June, the Supreme Court of North Carolina sought feedback on a potential change to the citation format for North Carolina appellate court opinions.  This week, the Court has officially made plans for the universal citation format to go into effect.  The purpose of the change is to present “an immediate, permanent, and medium-neutral” citation the moment an opinion is issued.… Continue Reading

The Supreme Court of North Carolina is exploring a proposal to adopt a universal citation format for North Carolina appellate court opinions. The format would implement sequential numbers for all opinions and a paragraph-based numbering system for pinpoint citations. The Court’s Technology Committee has prepared a report that describes the proposal in detail.  The idea has been percolating for years across the country, and other states have previously adopted similar formats.… Continue Reading

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of North Carolina published its internal “Guidebook” for citation, style, and usage.

You may recall that a few years back, a lawyer obtained a copy of and began selling the U.S. Supreme Court’s “secret” Style Guide. Fortunately, you do not need to buy a copy of our State Supreme Court’s Guidebook on Amazon—or wade through 266 pages of text.… Continue Reading

It is beginning to feel like a bi-annual holiday tradition between me and our blog readers: another rule-update summary.  Yesterday afternoon, the Supreme Court issued its latest order amending the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.  The amendments impact Appellate Rules 3, 3.1, 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 18, 26, 28, 30, 37, 41, brand new Appellate Rule 42, as well as Appendixes A, B, and D (whew)!… Continue Reading

Just at the “Arab Spring” brought both revolution and repression to the Middle East, an “Appellate Spring” may be upon us as appellate practitioners and judges agitate against the Bluebook’s excessively technical rules.  More specifically, many are embracing the notion that quotations in opinions and briefs should be streamlined to make them more readable.

A full history of this evolving process is beyond the scope of this blog but you can see from the following link that a 2017 grass-roots Twitter suggestion quickly gained traction. … Continue Reading

We have written before about the benefits of plain speak in appellate opinions. We have also written about the importance of consistency in brief writing.

I would like to throw one more resource into the ring, courtesy of the Plain Language Action and Information Network. If you need some (tongue-in-cheek) tips on how to improve your writing, see the organization’s 51 rules of “How to Write Good” here.… Continue Reading

Proofreading is tedious.  And no matter how many times you proofread a brief, you inevitably spot a hidden “misstate” about two seconds after you file it.  If you have read my blog posts long enough, you know that perfection is a noble, but unobtainable, goal.

However, next time someone suggests that proofing (or re-proofing) is not a valuable exercise, take a look at State v.Continue Reading

The Appellate Rules Committee has updated the Appellate Style Manual, which is intended to give practical examples and tips for those practicing in North Carolina’s appellate courts.  Though not a substitute for the Rules themselves, it may be helpful to consult the style manual in light of the recent changes to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The revised version can be found here.… Continue Reading

Less than a year ago, we blogged on a CLE presentation by Court of Appeals Judge Rich Dietz on typography in appellate briefs.  At the time, Judge Dietz urged appellate practitioners to abandon the use of Courier and Times New Roman fonts (the two fonts specifically endorsed by the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure) in favor of the Century font family (the font used by North Carolina’s appellate courts when they publish their opinions).… Continue Reading