Who is the target audience of an appellate opinion?  Appellate counsel?  Other lawyers?  The public?

For appellate counsel, of course, the written opinion serves to explain the reasoning behind the disposition.  For other lawyers, the written opinion provides a roadmap of the law and the application of that law to a set of facts, which could help guide arguments that can be made in the future in analogous situations.… Continue Reading

“Brevity is appreciated.”  “A short brief can be very effective.” How many times have you heard appellate judges make statements like this about appellate briefs?  While I can most certainly understand an appellate judge’s desire for shorter briefs, a soon-to-be-published article in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies examines whether more concise briefs are correlated with success on appeal.  The full paper is accessible here, but the abstract notes surprisingly that for civil appellants in the Ninth Circuit, “briefs of greater length are strongly correlated with success on appeal.… Continue Reading

I’ve previously blogged about cases that remind me of the bar exam or law school exams.  In reading a case released by the Court of Appeals yesterday, however, I was reminded of grammar lessons from 7th grade English class and the dreaded logic section of the LSAT.

In In re Powell, the court addressed an appeal from a trial court’s order denying the Appellant’s motion to set aside a foreclosure sale. … Continue Reading

While this blog is normally confined to appellate cases and issues,  in a recent “text order,” Judge Catherine Eagles of the Middle District of North Carolina fired a warning shot regarding MDNC briefs that mirrors what we often hear from appellate judges.  Formatting and detailed legal and record citations matter, and the Court is not going to help lazy lawyers who are unwilling to do the work themselves!  … Continue Reading

Last week I had to get out my decoder ring.  I received a text message from a person 20 years my junior.  In a world where dyslexic keypads seem to be the norm, websites like google and urban dictionary help me decipher the twittersphere.

Thus, although I often find myself desperately trying to bring an appellate brief within the word count limit, I can sympathize with appellate judges’ frustration with the use of excessive and obscure acronyms.… Continue Reading

I relish the warmth of a freshly printed brief and the texture of the bond paper on which it is printed.  But your audience–an appellate judge–may well be reading your brief on an iPad or tablet.  Should the medium change the substance in any way?

According to an article in the Columbia Business Law Review, the answer is yes.  For one, a reader zooming in on a particular block of text may then have a hard time scrolling down to a footnote and back. … Continue Reading

Picture this:  it has been two years since the last time you filed a Petition for Writ of Supersedeas in the Court of Appeals.  You generally recall what to do, but you know you should consult the Rules of Appellate Procedure before filing to be sure.  Oh, and the Appendixes to the Rules.  And also any case law interpreting the Rules. … Continue Reading

If you are a blog subscriber, you may have noticed some repetitive traffic from our blog mailing list this past week.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but are pleased to announce that the NCAPB.com blog was recently moved to a faster server.   With this move, the blog pages should load much faster for our blog visitors. 

This behind-the-scenes update also presents an opportunity to highlight one of the key features of our appellate practice blog that you may not know about: the Rules and Practice Guides page. … Continue Reading

Whether you rarely practice in the North Carolina appellate courts or have a copy of the Appellate Rules tabbed, highlighted, and scribbled-upon, you have likely heard that there are many highly specific “style” requirements imposed by the Rules and the attached Appendices.  Fonts, margins, spacing, periods–why do these things matter?

That’s too big a question to tackle in one post.  But let’s focus on one such item of minutia: date stamps (a/k/a “filed stamps”). … Continue Reading

A 2011 North Carolina Court of Appeals opinion provides yet another example of why attorneys should be careful when asking for sanctions or dismissal of an appeal for appellate rules violations. In the published opinion of Dafford v. JP Steakhouse LLC, –N.C. App. –, 709 S.E.2d 402 (2011), the defendants-appellees’ brief appeared to take some delight in pointing the Court of Appeals to plaintiff’s “numerous appellate rules violations.”… Continue Reading