Appellate Insights

GMSR’s monthly appellate insights offer concise, timely guidance on appellate issues, and tips for avoiding common pitfalls at all stages of litigation.

Apr 15, 2022 Alana H. Rotter
Three Ways To Make Your Writing More Reader-Friendly

Your writing should make it easy for the judge or research attorney to follow your argument. There are many components to this. Here are three that arise frequently, but may not be obvious: Ellipses. Although ellipses help shorten long quotations, readers naturally wonder what was

Mar 15, 2022 Laurie J. Hepler
Two Sides

In nearly every case, both sides have colorable-to-good arguments.  Seeing both sides as objectively as you can, as early as you can, helps you win on appeal.  Here is how: First, winning sometimes means settling for a reasonable number—one that compromises between both sides’ best

Feb 12, 2022 Alana H. Rotter
Movin’ Right Along

When the trial court eliminates key causes of action or evidence, but leaves part of the case intact, parties sometimes dismiss the remaining claims as a way to hasten entry of a final judgment and move along to the Court of Appeal.  In attempting to

Jan 18, 2022 Laurie J. Hepler
Should You Answer That Petition for Review?

Lawyers don’t like to leave arguments unanswered. But a petition for California Supreme Court review is a special animal. About 95% are denied, and almost all of those would have been denied even if they’d been left unanswered. Answers are optional, and some Supreme Court

Dec 09, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
Appearances Matter

At a time of year when holiday decorations and beautifully-wrapped gifts abound, remember that visual presentation also matters in legal briefs, motions, and other filings.  Here are some formatting tips to increase readability and convey your message with maximum impact: Use frequent headings and subheadings. 

Nov 11, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Making Good Briefs Great

GMSR edits draft briefs every day—our own and co-counsel’s.  We base our edits on experience with what works, including input from judges and court staff attorneys on writing habits they appreciate or bemoan.  Here are four key changes that help make good briefs great: Eliminate

Oct 14, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
The Jury’s In

Jury trials are ramping up after a long hiatus. With jury trials come jury instructions, a common basis for appellate reversal. To preserve instructional error arguments (in case you lose at trial), and to minimize the risk of reversal (in the hope that you win

Sep 09, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Is This Injunction Stayed?

The general rule of thumb is that an appeal automatically stays a “mandatory” injunction, but not a “prohibitory” injunction. But the distinction between mandatory and prohibitory injunctions isn’t always clear.  What makes an injunction “mandatory,” and thus stayed?  Here are three core principles from our

Jul 13, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
Back to Basics

Lawyers who’ve been living with a case, especially in an area of their specialty, are deeply immersed in the relevant law.  But don’t assume that’s true of the court—judges tend to be generalists, given the wide array of cases on their dockets.  To maximize persuasiveness,

Jun 10, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Batting Practice

Oral argument brings some predictable questions—and some that the briefing lawyer wouldn’t easily think of.  Diligent solo preparation can cover most of the predictable ground.  But arguing counsel needs the insights of lawyers or client representatives who didn’t work on the briefs, to prepare for

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