Appellate Insights

Sep 15, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
Secret Weapons

California appellate courts publish only about 15% of their civil decisions as citable precedent.  Lurking in the other 85% are often valuable clues about how the court may view your case.  How to find them? First, geography.  There may be scores of unpublished decisions on

Aug 11, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Ready For Your Close-Up?

As more courts switch from phone arguments to video arguments, it’s increasingly important to think through the physical layout of the space you’ll be arguing from.  Here are some specific pointers, beyond the basic tips we offered in April: Position the camera at your eye

Jul 09, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
July COVID Updates

Rules and practices in the California Courts of Appeal have changed almost weekly since March.  Here is the latest: Most appellate courts are now conducting video oral arguments, livestreamed on their websites.  The Sixth District (San Jose) is still using phone conferencing, and the Third

Jun 16, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
What’s Your Authority For That?

Clear, concise legal writing is more important than ever, with court closures leading to motions being decided on the papers and creating a backlog for judges to sort through when the courts reopen.  Tailor your use of legal authorities to help the judge quickly see

May 27, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
A Moment of Gratitude

Two months ago, COVID-19 closed most of California’s civil court system—the largest in the world.  And nearly all courts remain shuttered except for true emergencies. But there is one major exception: the appellate courts.  Their work does not require large gatherings, and most of it can

Apr 14, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Can You Hear Me Now?

Although some appellate courts have cancelled or postponed oral arguments in light of the current pandemic, others are forging ahead with arguments via phone or videoconference.  Here are some pointers for arguing remotely: Find out in advance what platform the court will be using, and

Mar 12, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
Slay The Footnotes

Are footnotes in appellate briefs really so bad? Yes, they are. If you must use them temporarily to store ideas while drafting, be sure to remove virtually all of them before you file. Here’s why. Distraction.  Most of us have trouble following an argument if told to

Feb 12, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Prime Real Estate

Legal writing, like any other type of writing, should strive to keep the reader’s attention.  But any reader faced with a huge stack of paper (or the digital equivalent) is likely to lose focus eventually.  That makes the first pages of any brief or other

Jan 23, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
Ways To Blow It

If you expect to take a case to judgment, preserving the right to appeal is vital. The same may (or may not) be true if you’re settling subject to decisions yet to come from the trial court. Here are some ways that even experienced lawyers and sophisticated clients can and do forfeit the chance to appeal—along with tips to help ensure you don’t give up more than you intend.

Nov 12, 2019 Alana H. Rotter
Tough Questions

Interlocutory rulings generally are not appealable—the Court of Appeal will review them only on appeal from the final judgment.  Many litigators know they can seek immediate discretionary review via a writ petition.  But fewer know of a procedural tool that can improve the chances of

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