Podcast – Appellate Dream Team

If you’re a member of the ABA and have access to its website content, you can download and listen to a podcast I recorded recently, about putting together an “Appellate Dream Team.” The podcast is based on the blog post I wrote back in June. Enjoy!

Motion to End Anarchy

2000px-circle-a_red-svgThis is a first (for me, anyway). A pro se litigant in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York has filed a “Motion to End Anarchy.” Here’s ¶ 2:

The election rigging by Debbie Wasserman Schultz to cheat the voters for
Bernie Sanders is dwarfed only by the police murders of innocent black victims
filmed for evidence is the definition of anarchy by a lawless society. The entire
media conspiracy never mentions disqualification of Hillary for voter fraud even
when Trump claims there will be rigging again. The Constitution is glorified
hypocrisy. The lenders are in court with their hands out to collect bogus loans
made while losses are provided for embezzlement and legal fees are donated to
lawyers by the court from the stockholders while one of two psychopaths are
anointed President. Evidence and law are ignored by the courts.

Fall Speaking Schedule – Updated

September will be busy. I’ll be talking about the Supreme Court’s 2015 & 2016 terms on the following dates, in the following places:

  • Sept 8 @ Texas A&M Law School (Fort Worth)
  • Sept 16 @ Baylor Law School (Waco) & for the Waco-McClennon Bar Association (separately)
  • Sept 22 @ BNM for the DFW Chapter of ACS (RSVP here)
  • Sept 23 @ Belo Mansion (Dallas) for the Dallas Bar Association
  • Sept 26 @ University of Texas School of Law (Austin)

I’ll also be at St. Mary’s Law School (San Antonio) in November (date TBD).

On the topics of legal writing & appellate practice, I’ll be giving a joint presentation (w/ Scott Stolley) about preparing jury charges, at the upcoming Dallas Bench/Bar Conference, Sept 29-Oct 1. And in November I’ll be participating in a panel discussion about reading and writing e-briefs, at the Annual Meeting of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Why Citations Belong in the Body, Made Simple

This is the law.(FN1) It has been the law since 1992 and is still the law.(FN2) And other courts of appeals agree this is the law.(FN3)

  1. According to a court decision from another jurisdiction.
  2. According to a case from 2001.
  3. In two unpublished decisions from only one other court.

OR

This is the law.(FN1) It has been the law since 1992 and is still the law.(FN2) And other courts of appeals agree this is the law.(FN3)

  1. According to this court.
  2. According to a case decided just two months ago.
  3. In, e.g., three published decisions from three different courts.

Why make your reader hunt for what is often the most important and persuasive part of your argument?

The Appellate Dream Team

Not everyone is good at everything. I’m not, anyway. So I’ve been thinking lately about the various skill sets that a good, full-service appellate group should have. And I think I’ve come up with the five key components of the appellate “Dream Team.” Keep reading, and let me know if I’ve forgotten something.

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Font Matters, the Tweet Thread

Yesterday’s post on fonts triggered a discussion on Twitter, and my Twitter friend Jennifer Romig was kind enough to gather most of it into a thread on Storify. Good stuff.

Font Matters

You’d think by now it would be common knowledge that lawyers should avoid using Times New Roman as the default font for their legal documents. But it isn’t. A while back I had a conversation with an experienced lawyer, about font choices in appellate briefs, and this experienced lawyer tried to tell me that changing fonts was a bad idea. “Just leave it on Times New Roman,” the experienced lawyer said. “That’s what judges are used to; it’s what they expect. There’s no reason to shake it up.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe, after seeing thousands of court filings in Times New Roman, judges simply get used to and “expect” all filings to look that way. But expectations are not preferences. The fact that judges have grown to expect Times New Roman does not mean judges prefer Times New Roman. In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary.

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Problems of Textualism

Take the sentence “I never said she stole my money.” This sentence has at least seven possible (and different) meanings. But the changes in meaning aren’t conveyed through the text; they’re conveyed through emphasis —something you can’t discern from the text alone.

Just look at the different meaning each sentence conveys:

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5 Tips for Writing Briefs for Tablets

I’ve been invited to sit on a panel at the annual meeting of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, this November. Our panel will discuss how we should write differently for screens because we read differently on screens.

I’m sure I was invited to participate based on an article I wrote back in 2014, called “5 Tips for Writing Briefs for Tablets.” So, if you want a taste of what I’m going to talk about in November, go check out that article.

Choosing the Right Word

img_0750Adverbs and adjectives are not a sign of good persuasive writing. If you find yourself using lots of adverbs or adjectives to get your point across, you’re probably making bad word choices. Why? Because adverbs modify verbs, and adjectives modify nouns—and if your verbs and nouns need modifying, then they probably aren’t the verbs and nouns you should be using.

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