Appellate Advocacy Blog

As the pandemic became undeniable and understandings of its infectious nature grew, most courts adjusted to remote arguments, and many trial courts experimented with Zoom juries. In March 2020, I had a live argument in another state. My family, concerned about my well-being, loaded me up with trial-sized hand sanitizer, KN95 masks, and nitrile powder gloves. I recall feeling reassured when my departure airport was empty, only to discover that my connecting airport was a madhouse of largely unmasked travelers. Once in the courtroom, the presiding judge asked everyone to keep social distances, especially from the bench, as well as
Continue Reading Arguing in the age of COVID

I have been a bit remiss on blogging about Volume 21, Issue 2 of the Journal of Appellate Practice & Process.  Honestly, it has been a busy semester.  But, this issue is important, so I thought I would highlight a few articles in case folks have extra time to read during the holidays. As just a reminder, Volume 21, Issue 2 addresses the thorny issue of what judges and lawyers can do ameliorate the divisions in our country. I have previously blogged on the prefaces and on articles by Chief Justice JoAnn B. JayneLance B. WickmanErwin
Continue Reading Some holiday reading

Assume as you conduct your legal research that you come up with a decision that says exactly what you are hoping for and that the precedent, though rarely cited, remains good law. As you write, confident that the holding puts…
Continue Reading What Do You Do When a Superior Court Misses a Conflicting Precedent in a Decision that Affects Your Case?

In a New York Times column, Linda Greenhouse, who covered the Supreme Court for that venerable newspaper for many years, took off her gloves to call out some of the justices for the questions they posed during oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org.[1] The justices’ queries suggested not only that Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks the challenge but could, as many predicted, also overturn Roe v. Wade[2] rather than simply further whittle it down. She called many of the questions as “gaslighting” because they struck her as disingenuous for what struck
Continue Reading Can an oral advocate learn anything from the SCOTUS hearing on abortion?

A common refrain in our house is to “talk nice.”  My spouse and I try to remind our three year-old to not whine and to use nice words.

Using our “nice” and “kind” words is also important in appellate brief writing.  One of the common themes that emerged from my work on Winning on Appeal is that judges don’t like briefs that are “nasty.” So, while you can criticize the reasoning of the lower court or the other party, you need to be “nice” in how you do it. In short, words and tone matter.

Consider this example (common in
Continue Reading Remember to ‘talk nice’ in appellate brief writing

This post was written by Daria Brown, a graduating senior at Georgia College and State University and the President of Georgia College’s Mock Trial team. Daria will begin her first year of law school in the fall of 2022.

Addicts don’t belong in prison. And drug courts are not a proper solution.

In recent years, drug courts have proliferated in many states as an alternative to incarceration for low-level drug offenders. Ostensibly predicated on a rehabilitative rather than punitive paradigm, drug courts strive to provide low-level drug offenders with treatment in lieu of incarceration.

But upon closer examination, drug courts
Continue Reading Drug Courts: Well-intended but misguided