Archives: Briefs

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Short-Citing to the Record in the Fifth Circuit

I received a copy of this letter in one of my cases: What’s wrong with using the short citation form “id.” when citing the record? As I wrote about here, the Fifth Circuit recently standardized the format for citing electronic official records on appeal to require the short form “ROA” followed by volume and page. The … Continue Reading

Are Lawyer-Hyperlinked Briefs Headed for Extinction?

When used appropriately, hyperlinks to specific portions of the record or to on-point authorities can be a very effective tool in the appellate lawyer’s arsenal. But are recent developments enhancing that tool or effectively taking it away? Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit standardized the format for citing electronic official … Continue Reading

How to Handle Cross-Appeals

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke at the Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course, an annual program sponsored by TexasBarCLE and the State Bar Appellate Section. My topic was “How to Handle Cross-Appeals.” I promised the attendees that I would make my paper and slides available over the web. Clicking the links should open each one in a … Continue Reading

To Cite or Not to Cite: Do Unpublished Opinions Have Precedential Value?

I recall discovering my first unpublished case as a law student when interning for an intermediate appellate court justice. Strangely, a legend accompanied the opinion disclaiming precedential value, which seemed odd considering that the opinion was written and accessible through my legal database. Around the same time, I encountered my first memorandum opinion with its … Continue Reading

An Unopposed Briefing Extension Request Will Be Granted, Right?

Appellate work is very time- and labor-intensive. Because it’s difficult to work on more than one matter at a time, appellate lawyers often rely on extensions of briefing deadlines to manage workloads. Texas appellate courts are usually very generous about granting such extensions, particularly when they are unopposed. So I’m sure appellant’s counsel was surprised … Continue Reading

Crafting a TRAP 9.4(i)(3) Certificate of Compliance

As promised yesterday, this post will cover what a certificate of compliance under the new word-count rules might look like, now that every computer-generated document filed in a Texas appellate court on or after December 1, 2012—yes, every one, except for the record—must include such a certificate. The new rules provide the logical starting place. … Continue Reading

Word-Count Rules Going Into Effect December 1

A trial lawyer poses the following question: Do you know for sure whether the new appellate rules are going into effect December 1? Any thoughts on whether an appeal filed on November 29 (but not actually due until December 3) should maintain the old format or use the new rule? Per this Texas Supreme Court … Continue Reading

SCOTX Adopts Word-Count Rule

The Texas Supreme Court has issued an order incorporating word counts into the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. The order amends Rules 9, 38, 49, 52, 53, 55, 64, 68, 70, and 71. Some highlights of the amendments include (for computer-generated briefs in civil cases): a minimum 14-point font (12-point for footnotes); a 15,000-word limit … Continue Reading

Lone Star Lawyers Converging on Houston for SBOT12

I will soon be departing for Houston to attend the 2012 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.  This will be my third straight year to attend and my second year as a presenter. On Thursday, as part of the Computer and Technology Section’s “Adaptable Lawyer” track, Don Cruse and I will give a talk entitled … Continue Reading

Hedges and Hawthorne to Speak on New TAMES System

On March 29, 2012, Fourteenth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Adele Hedges and Texas Supreme Court Clerk Blake Hawthorne will speak to the Austin Bar Civil Appellate Law Section on "The Texas Appeals Management and E-filing System: Making Our Appellate Courts More Efficient and Transparent." This talk goes along with an article Blake published in the most … Continue Reading

Results of the Twitter Brief Contest

As I wrote about here, the State Bar Appellate Section sponsored a Twitter brief contest in conjunction with the recent Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course in Austin.  The winners were announced during the Section’s annual meeting. The official PowerPoint containing the winning entries and several honorable mentions is embedded below for everyone’s enjoyment. I intend … Continue Reading

The Adaptable (Appellate) Lawyer

I recently attended the 2011 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in San Antonio.  As mentioned here before, the Bar asked me to come back as a presenter this year.  It was quite an honor. My subject was e-filing in state and federal appellate courts.  In conjunction with my talk, I published a short article in … Continue Reading

Soliciting Potential “Greenbook” Revisions

The Texas Law Review is working on on a new edition of the Texas Rules of Form, more affectionately known as the "Greenbook."  The call for suggestions or comments, with the relevant contact information, is available here. Some issues are already being discussed over at the Supreme Court of Texas Blog, including citations to court … Continue Reading

Extensions of Time in the Fifth Circuit

Let’s be honest. Most state-court appellate practitioners find the Fifth Circuit a little byzantine. But one thing the Fifth Circuit does right is allow the clerk’s office to grant short unopposed briefing extensions—up to 30 days—over the telephone. The circuit court has even done away with the requirement that the requesting counsel send a confirmation … Continue Reading

Insight for an Aspiring Appellate Lawyer

Over at his Legal-Writing Blog, Prof. Wayne Schiess offered up what one of his students wrote after expressing the desire to become an appellate lawyer and after working in the appellate-practice group at a law firm: I learned some valuable lessons about appellate practice, and the difference between enjoying something in school and enjoying it in … Continue Reading

Clearly, a Reason to Avoid Using Intensifiers

Faced with an opposing brief that preceded a conclusion with the word "clearly," my first supervising partner sometimes responded with this quote from Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht: I have learned in more than a decade of judging that what is claimed to be clear seldom is. Nathan L. Hecht, Foreword to W. Wendell Hall, Revisiting Standards of … Continue Reading

Three Steps for Improving Your Legal Writing

Wayne Schiess, the head of UT’s legal-writing program and author of Wayne Schiess’s legal-writing blog, spoke to the Austin Bar Association’s Solo & Small Firm Section last week.  Following the premise that lawyers are professional writers—an observation that applies with even greater force to appellate counsel—Prof. Schiess suggested a three-step process for improving one’s legal-writing skills: Practice:  … Continue Reading

Bluebook Available Online—For a Price

As part of my year-end spending spree (which my accountant recommended to maximize business deductions—but that’s another story), I purchased the 18th Edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.  Now, the good folks at Harvard Law Review have announced that they are making an online version available on a subscription basis.  Figures. Hat tip … Continue Reading

Third Court Taking Courtesy E-Copies

As a follow up to this post on the status of e-filing in the Texas appellate courts, the Third Court of Appeals is now accepting electronic courtesy copies.  The court is also asking (but not requiring) the party responsible for requesting or filing the record and briefs to submit e-copies of such documents on a … Continue Reading

What’s Wrong With Legal Writing?

In a thought-provoking series over at his legal-writing blog, Wayne Schiess ruminates on the reasons why modern legal writing isn’t what it should be.  Among the causes he cites are a primary and secondary education system that doesn’t emphasize writing education adequately, reliance on poorly written judicial opinions and form documents, merely superficial understanding of … Continue Reading

Avoid the Kitchen-Sink Approach

I filed a brief recently in which I made the decision to discard an issue litigated at trial in favor of stronger arguments that, in my judgment, provide better prospects for obtaining appellate relief.  Ray Ward, author of the (new) legal writer, compares this exercise to the "kitchen-sink" approach.  According to Ray: When we try … Continue Reading