Thursday, February 09, 2006

Appellate Practice Tips from the North Dakota Supreme Court

The North Dakota Supreme Court has had one of the best court websites for years. It includes the Court's opinions from the beginning of 1970 to the present, feeds for news and opinions, webcasts of live and recorded oral arguments of cases, and much more information for attorneys and the public.

You might be interested in the Court's compilation of Appellate Practice Tips. The tips include general advice, such as:

Summary judgment can't be reversed on appeal based on what you wish you had presented in the trial court, only on what was presented as competent evidence in the trial court.

There are also tips specific to the record, stays, briefs, the appendix, mootness, oral argument, petitions for rehearing, and the Administrative Agencies Practice Act.

My favorite five tips on briefs are:

  • Don't make your brief a mystery. Tell the reader what the case is about right up front. ...
  • The word "clearly" is no substitute for authority or logic.
  • Never use many words when a few will do. A longer brief is not necessarily a better brief.
  • Cite only cases you have actually read.
  • Clear language—not pompous or ponderous language—is most effective.

I will highlight some of the tips about oral arguments closer to first-year oral arguments.

Thanks to Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog for his tip about these Appellate Practice Tips.

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