Wednesday, March 12, 2008

why I love court websites: Reason 1

I love court websites for so many reasons. I'm going to list them in my next few posts. Here's my first (but only because it's the most recent) reason.

This morning I went to my state appellate courts' website to check dates for upcoming oral arguments that students might want to attend. I clicked the entry for one of the arguments, and up came the clerk's docket sheet. Not many of us would think that a docket sheet is particularly interesting, but I discovered something that I can use to reinforce with the students the importance of rule compliance in constructing and formatting briefs. In my state, the appellate clerk's office has a rigid checklist that is used to ascertain rule compliance for every appellate brief that is filed. If anything does not pass muster, the clerk is empowered to reject the brief as tendered, and the lawyer who proffered it must fix the problem. In some cases, the lawyer may also have to ask the court for permission to submit the "repaired" brief, because it will come in after its deadline.

I'm sometimes accused by students of being picky about things. Well, it's true; I am. I am picky about the things that will get briefs rejected in my state. Now I can show my students who the true master of pickiness is: the clerk of court. Click this link to the docket for a case scheduled for argument May 1, 2008 (link may not work after that date), if you'd like to take a look.


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