January 01, 2014

Sua Sponte A Judge Comments

An appellate judge lays out his views on selecting arguments.

Hon. Joseph A. Greenaway Jr.

Download a printable PDF of this article (membership required).

What captures the attention of a panel of appellate judges? This question has confounded generations of trial and appellate lawyers. Martin Siegel’s article goes a long way in trying to outline affirmative steps appellate lawyers should take to ensure that they position themselves for success before an appellate panel. The strategy of narrowing the number of arguments, focusing on the appropriate standard of review, and measuring the effect that the relief you seek will have on future cases are critical parts of every appellate lawyer’s matrix of considerations. But quelling the temptation to put in more and more should not be the primary consideration in the argument selection process.

There is another perspective worth noting when evaluating what arguments to focus on in your appeal: How does the selection of arguments affect the judges who are hearing my case?

Appellate judges hear literally hundreds of cases each year and write dozens of opinions. We hear cases that are inherently interesting. We also hear cases that are not. No shock there. Your challenge, then, is to pique our interest and persuade us at the same time. How you go about marshaling your arguments both in your brief and at oral argument has everything to do with your ultimate success.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now