Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to write a more objective “deep issue” statement

Balanced_NickelLast week’s post from Thomas is a great summary of the various views on what makes an issue statement persuasive. As he explained, one of the biggest critiques of stating the deep issue in multiple sentence format is that many judges prefer a balanced, objective approach in that section of the brief. Lawyers can lose credibility quickly if the issue statement appears too biased (or even biased at all). So what’s the cure?

To improve objectivity, while retaining just a touch of subtle persuasion, use the simple contrastive signal words “although,” “but,” or “however,” to juxtapose the obviously weak facts in your client’s case against the favorable facts that undermine them.  Let’s take an example from the contraceptive health coverage case discussed in my last post. (The examples come from an employer’s brief because the government’s issue statements were written in short, “whether” format.)

Original issue statement from the employer’s brief: The Grote Family members are Catholic and operate their business, Grote Industries, in accordance with their faith, including the Catholic Church's teachings regarding the moral wrongfulness of abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization. * * * Can the government establish the high standard of strict scrutiny in support of implementing the Mandate against Grote, especially when the government exempts millions of other Americans and has a variety of alternative measures available? [70 words in this edited version]

More objective version: The Grote Family members are Catholic and operate their business, Grote Industries, through their faith, including the Catholic Church's teachings that it is a grave moral wrong to support abortion, contraception, or sterilization. Although the company is for-profit and does not hire by religion, it runs as an extension of the Grote Family members. The government exempts millions of other Americans and has a variety of alternative measures. Can the Mandate survive strict scrutiny? [74 words]

Notice that the technique is much the same as the “neutralizing” strategy in persuasive statements of fact: state a harmful fact, and then immediately soften its effect with an ameliorating or explanatory fact. Here, assuming the company's for-profit, secular status is one of the biggest factual hurdles it faces, it needs facts personalizing the company and making the business inextricable from the family. Naturally, the government would use the same strategy to neutralize the allegation that it has myriad other exceptions and alternatives.

Finally, notice also how it is the very interplay between "weak" and "strong" facts that naturally gives rise to the question presented at the end of the short paragraph. That is what many judges are looking for in a truly useful statement of facts: has the lawyer used that all-important first section of the brief to pinpoint the center of tension in the party's facts? If so, the lawyer has served the court by helping it to quickly locate the crux of the issue. And by using the neutralizing technique, the writer has managed also to include just the right amount of gentle persuasion.

Up next in this series about “deep” issue statements: minding the 75-word “limit”—what stays and what goes?

Briefs and opinion: 2013 WL 5960692 (opinion), 2013 WL 816519 (Grote Ind. opening brief), 2013 WL 1208759 (U.S. response).

November 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Turkey Takes a Stand

At the crossroads of law, advocacy, and Thanksgiving lies a cute little piece of elementary school theater: A Turkey Takes a Stand by Lois Lewis. It's the story of Trevor Turkey, a turkey who does his best to advocate a rather obvious change to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Trevor begins his appeal:

Thank you, Senator. I come to you this morning to talk about Thanksgiving, more specifically, about the plight of turkeys on that great national holiday. For most citizens, Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. For me and my fellow turkeys, many of whom become the main course on dinner tables across this country, it’s a sad, sad day indeed.

Trevor makes a brief historical argument and effectively responds to a number of second order concerns from senators. It's a quick read with great potential for teaching some advocacy lessons to elementary schoolers.

I figured it was a more upbeat offering than further debating the whether the annual presidential turkey pardoning represents an innocuous annual ritual, an affront to animal rights, evidence of the influence of Big Agriculture on Washington, or a distraction from human prisoners actually seeking a pardon.

To those who are celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving.

November 28, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

44 Years Later, Train Ride Ends

Arbitral proceedings typically last less than a year.  A lawsuit is usually resolved within two years.  If an appeal is filed, a case can easily drag on for three to five years.  However, the fight of 32 railroad workers to receive the value of their lost seniority and job protection lasted 44 years.  The suit survived the deaths of 30 of the 32 plaintiffs as well as their lead counsel (his daughter took over the case after his death in 2000).  

Following the merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad in 1968, some workers were laid off and, if brought back to work, were given temporary assignments at a lesser wage.  The 32 workers filed suit in 1969 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and the combined Penn Central Transportation Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection less than three years after the merger.  The case involved several arbitration hearings (initially sent to arbitration by the district court in 1976) and federal court appeals.  A 1979 attempt by the company to settle the case for $95,000 was rejected by the plaintiffs.  The defense took the position that they were not employees following the layoffs, and that the bankruptcy of Penn Central eviscerated the claims.  However, the plaintiffs argued that the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 provided carved-out protections for railroad workers, and that they were employees.  It also seems that the company is still in existence, albeit no longer in the railroad business, with Penn Central now a part of American Financial Group.  

After a federal appeals panel in September upheld the arbitration award and granted interest, the defense finally decided to cut its losses and move on from the dispute.  The workers were seeking $564,820 in damages.  After adding accumulated interest, the two remaining plaintiffs and the heirs of the 30 deceased ones will split with their counsel $14.7 million. 

Although this has been called the longest running U.S. civil dispute,  the claim is disputed by a case that allegedly lasted 57 years.  Guinness World Records lists the longest current suit by a single individual as one dating back to 1972.  

Hat tip to The Wall Street Journal.

 

 

November 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Does Style Matter?

As I was embarking on a whirlwind week of oral arguments, the capstone of a time-challenged semester of teaching appellate advocacy, I was asked, "Does style really matter?"  The inquisitive person continued..."I mean, if the law is on your side, why should you care about things like diction, vocal variety, proper attire, pregnant pauses, and the like?"  What followed was a very interesting discussion on the topic.

One one hand, there is merit to the logic that the only thing that matters is the law.  If the rule of law supports an advocate's position, the chances of losing should be remote.  Few would debate this proposition.  Few would debate that the opposite is also true.  Indeed, I can vividly recall one of my most passionate arguments before the court.  After I finished, one of the judges quipped, "Nice argument counselor.  Now, do you have any case law to back it up?"  I didn't.  I hoped my advanced Toastmasters skills would save a sinking case.  No such luck.  The law mattered more.  

On the other hand, I have certainly seen good cases lose and bad cases win.  Another reality is that it is not often that a case is 'open and shut' on the legal merits.  Normally, there is relevant and legitimate legal arguments to be made by both appellant and appellee.  After all, this is why splits in the circuits exist.  Reasonable minds can disagree on statutory and "precedential" interpretation.  I am convinced that in these instances, just like in instances of first impression, style matters.  

When thinking about people that are at the top of their profession, style likely played almost as large a role in getting them there as their substantive knowledge.  It is one thing to be a genius, but quite another to be able to communicate that genius in a manner that those with less knowledge can understand and appreciate your position.  This is what separates the leaders from the role players.  Style.  If a person's style is engaging and entertaining, I am more likely to actively listen and inquire.  If the style is replete with ahhs, umms, restarts, stammering, lack of eye contact, nervous twitches and the like, my brain is more prone to start thinking about what is for dinner rather than what is being communicated to me.  This logic also falls neatly in line with 

Advocates should spend the vast majority of their time learning the law.  But they certainly should dedicate some time to perfecting their style of delivering the law as well.  When it comes to oral argument, while justices debate the relevance and the effectiveness of it, if style can have even a scintilla of an effect on the ultimate outcome, doesn't it matter?!

November 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Nuclear" Option Fallout

The "world's greatest deliberative body" will deliberate a little less but will it get more done? Today, Senate Democrats invoked the "nuclear" option, a deviation from Senate practice to allow a bare majority to end debate on judicial and executive nominees.  This deviation rejects long-standing practice of requiring sixty votes to end debate (and it's more disreputable twin: the filibuster). While this seems to serve the Democrats' purpose of paving the way for confirmation of the nominees now in the queue, it will doubtlessly be used, and probably expanded, by Republicans in the future. 

I am less concerned with partisan tactical advantage and more concerned with the issue of whether this procedural change lead to swifter nominations. Where there's a will, there's a way, but that applies to obstruction as much as to progress. Opponents of a nomination are likely to move their opposition to the committee level or earlier in the process.

The past generation of appellate justice has seen caseload volume outpace judicial resources in an alarming manner. Unwilling to increase the number of federal judgeships to keep pace (or adopt structural reforms to address the issue), the federal courts, particularly the appeals courts, have had to develop internal reforms to manage the volume. But all that aside, the federal judiciary is currently 10% vacant with 18 of 179 circuit and 75 of 667 district judgeships unfilled

I would love to think that today's change in Senate practice will speed the federal judiciary's return to full strength, but sadly, I suspect it has not ended the fight but merely moved it down the hall. What do you think? Is this a long-overdue procedural reform or a short-sighted  departure from tradition?

November 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Framing the Issues: "Whether" Versus the "Deep Issue" Question Presented

To follow up on Tonya’s post about persuasively framing issues, I thought I’d pose a question about the best way to frame the “question presented.”  Specifically, is it better to use the “whether” or the “deep issue” format?

In their 2008 book—Making Your CaseBryan Garner and Justice Scalia said that the “deep issue” is the “most persuasive form of an issue statement” because it allows the writer to present information in a way that even people unfamiliar with the area of law can understand.  They said this type of question usually “contains within it the syllogism that produces your desired conclusion,” and then they gave the following example:

Major premise:  Under Louisiana law, a husband is presumed to be the father of his wife's child unless he denies paternity within one year of the child’s birth. 

Minor premise:  Rousseve did not deny paternity within one year of Aleigha’s birth.

Conclusion:  Was he obliged to support Aleigha until he proved that he was not her father?    

Garner and Scalia said that “because seasoned legal readers are always impatient to find out what the case is about,” using the deep issue to give details about the case “satisfies a real need.”  They also said, however, that attorneys should avoid, in the rush to give details, posing “a one-sentence question that contains all the relevant premises,” a mistake that usually results in “a rambling statement that no mortal reader could wade through.”  Here is their example:

Whether there was a violation of the OSHA rule requiring every incident-investigation report to contain a list of factors that contributed to the incident, when the investigation report on the June 2002 explosion at the Vespante plant listed the contributing factors in an attachment to the report entitled “Contributing Factors,” as opposed to including them in the body of the report?

The better practice, according to Garner and Scalia, is to break the question presented into separate sentences totaling no more than 75 words, with the preliminary sentences explaining the case’s context and the final sentence posing the question that the court is being asked to answer.  Here is how they re-framed the same issue using this formula:

OSHA rules require every incident-investigation report to contain a list of factors that contributed to the incident.  The report on the June 2002 explosion at the Vespante plant listed the contributing factors not in the body of the report but in an attachment entitled “Contributing Factors.”   Did the report thereby violate OSHA rules?

For a different perspective, take a look at the book Noah Messing published this year, The Art of Advocacy.  He refused to be “prescriptive” in his chapter on questions presented, recognizing that “lawyers have widely divergent styles” and that “different customs prevail in different courts.”  He did, however, explain three different types of questions presented and address the pros and cons of each. 

First, he discussed what he called “short, neutral questions,” explaining that “most lawyers use, and many judges expect” this type of question presented.  Here is one of his examples:

Whether the district court violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment rights by limiting his cross-examination of a government witness?

Messing said this type of question makes tradeoffs.  In particular, the writer chooses “brevity” over “comprehensiveness.”  And because of that choice, the question tells the reader little about the case.  On the other hand, Messing said that such short, neutral questions can build lawyers’ credibility with judges—at least those judges who prefer a neutral question—because the question appears unbiased.

Second, Messing discussed what he called “short, aggressive questions,” explaining that short questions “need not be meek.”  The advantage to this type of question is that it explains the issue quickly while strongly hinting at the desired outcome.  The drawback—although Messing didn’t expressly say so in this section of his book—is that you still must choose “brevity” over “comprehensiveness.”  Here is one of Messing’s examples:

Whether the Executive’s use of military power inside the United States to detain, without charge or trial, a person who is lawfully in the United States violates the Constitution where Congress has not expressly authorized such detention?

Finally, Messing discussed “the trend toward longer questions presented,” explaining that sometimes it may be useful to mention “some helpful authority, some helpful facts, or both” if the legal issue is complicated.  Here’s an example he used:

Justice Brent Benjamin of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia refused to recuse himself from the appeal of the $50 million jury verdict in this case, even though the CEO of the lead defendant spent $3 million supporting his campaign for a seat on the court—more than 60% of the total amount spent to support Justice Benjamin’s campaign—while preparing to appeal the verdict against his company.  After winning election to the court, Justice Benjamin cast the deciding vote in the court’s 3-2 decision overturning the verdict.  The question presented is whether Justice Benjamin’s failure to recuse himself from participation in his principal financial supporter’s case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Messing said that “many top lawyers favor longer questions presented” like this, but he cautioned that lengthier questions increase the risk of undermining the lawyer’s credibility (by being too aggressive) or boring the judge.  Messing also warned against using the “syllogism” method that Garner and Scalia addressed in their book.  While he recognized that it can be done well, he said that “few lawyers follow this form” and that questions presented in this form are often “ham-fisted.”          

So what do you think?  “Whether” or the “deep issue”?  Does it depend on the case?  Does it depend on the court?  If your answer is “I don’t know,” take a look at Making Your Case and The Art of Advocacy.  Both are good sources that might help you decide. 

November 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

United's Motion to Dismiss Sex Toy Gag on Gay Couple Doesn't Survive 5th Circuit Scrutiny

In 2012, a Virginia gay couple accused United Airlines and Continental (collectively United) of negligence, invading their privacy, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress when an airline worker allegedly went into their luggage, removed a private sex toy, covered it with a foul smelling substance, taped it to the top of their luggage, and sent the luggage to the baggage claim carousel to embarrass them and to prompt waiting travelers to laugh at and ridicule the couple.  United removed the case from state court to the district court in the Southern District of Houston.  They then promptly filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, asserting that the claims cannot survive because they are preempted by Article 17 of the Montreal Convention (for a nice article explaining the Article and exploring legal cases involving it, click here).  In a decision dated November 29, 2012, the district court granted the motion and dismissed the case.  

Not discouraged by this setback, the couple and their capable attorney Dax Faubus appealed the case.  Fast forward a year.  On November 4, 2013 the 5th Circuit reversed and remanded the case, holding that the claims are not preempted by the Montreal Convention.  Specifically, the Court noted that the Article deals with passengers embarking and disembarking an aircraft.  In this case, the events that took place are related to embarking and disembarking only tenuously at best.  Indeed, the injury took place away from the aircraft and at the baggage claim area.  The Court further stated that the claim by United - that the action is preempted because it dealt with baggage - is not persuasive given the fact that the couple alleged no claim for the possible damage or loss to the baggage itself, only claiming personal injuries based upon what was done to the baggage.  Thus, sections 17(1) and (2) do not preempt the state law claims.  

What struck me as interesting is that there appears to be little to no attention paid to another possible issue with the preemption argument.  The facts of the case state that the couple was flying from Costa Rica to Norfolk VA.  However, during their layover in Houston TX they actually switched planes and "re-checked" their baggage.  Because they re-checked the baggage in the U.S. and made a U.S.-only flight from Houston to Virginia, arguably the 'international flight-focused' Montreal Convention might not have been applicable.  

I also find it curious that United seems to have decided against substantial pre-litigation settlement talks and instead opted for the deny and defend strategy.  Regardless of the legal merits, this seems like a potential PR nightmare for one of the world's largest airlines that possibly could have been avoided had the airline offered something more than the "goodwill gesture" the spokesperson(s) for the company states was extended.  Of note, the company continues to stick to its strategic focus by recently stating that "there is no support for this allegation" and that they will "vigorously defend themselves and their employees."  

Hat tip to Texas Lawyer.

November 20, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Framing the Issues: Contraceptive Coverage and Religious Freedom in the Seventh Circuit

Birth control pills
While many factors go into writing a truly persuasive brief, the best and earlie
st opportunity to convey the client’s case theory is the issue statement.  In a recent Seventh Circuit appeal involving religion and the new federal health insurance laws, the briefs provide instructive examples of how to take fuller advantage of that opportunity—or not. 

In Grote Industries v. Sebelius, the trial court denied a preliminary injunction to Catholic business owners who did not want to provide contraceptive health coverage to employees. Grote Industries and the United States framed the issues as follows. (The bold typeface is added here to emphasize the stronger thematic words.) 

  • Grote Industries: The Grote Family members are Catholic and operate their business, Grote Industries, in accordance with their faith, including the Catholic Church's teachings regarding the moral wrongfulness of abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization. *** Can the government establish the high standard of strict scrutiny in support of implementing the Mandate against Grote, especially when the government exempts millions of other Americans and has a variety of alternative measures available? 
  • United States: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) claim fails because RFRA does not allow a for-profit, secular corporation to deny federally required employee benefits on the basis of religion. 

In an opinion released last week, the Seventh Circuit used its merits analysis to fire a warning shot past the Justice Department, and required the trial court to provide temporary relief. The Court predicted that based on the record so far, the United States will fail to articulate a compelling state interest for requiring religious business owners to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans. While the decision remains controversial, as evidenced by a vigorous dissent, the issue statements in the briefs seem to presage the government’s need for a clearer theory—and a more compelling story. 

Next time: a deeper look into these issue statements for choices in structure, content, theme, and style. The Appellate Advocacy Blog will regularly examine briefs in high-profile cases for persuasive strategies. If you run across a striking example you’d like to share, contact us.

Hat tip to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog for the case.

Photo: Wikimedia

Briefs and opinion: 2013 WL 5960692 (opinion), 2013 WL 816519 (Grote Ind. opening brief), 2013 WL 1208759 (U.S. response).

November 19, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gettysburg, Guns, and PowerPoint

On the one hand, they're just tools, used safely and to society's benefit many times each day. On the other hand, their misuse is rampant and they are dangerously ubiquitous. The rhetoric of this debate is sharp and emotion-laden. No I'm not talking about guns, but about presentation programs like PowerPoint. Presentation software can be a powerful tool to inform and even advocate. It can also be used to bore and obfuscate. For some, like Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, it leads to a dystopian level of miscommunication:

Imagine a world with almost no pronouns or punctuation. A world where any complex thought must be broken into seven- word chunks, with colorful blobs between them. It sounds like the futuristic dystopia of Kurt Vonnegut's short story Harrison Bergeron, in which intelligent citizens receive ear-splitting broadcasts over headsets so that they cannot gain an unfair advantage over their less intelligent peers. But this world is no fiction--it is the present-day reality of a PowerPoint presentation, a reality that is repeated an estimated 30 million times a day.

Peter Norvig, The Lancet, Volume 362, Issue 9381, Pages 343-344.

As an illustration of this view, Norvig reimagined The Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint format. (Click on the image for the full presentation.)

Gettysburg1Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. ~Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863.

Lacking Lincoln's eloqeunce or Norvig's wit, I give you both to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address. It seemed to me that a blog about advocacy should mark the date in some fashion.

November 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diversity and judicial nominations in the Eleventh Circuit

Judicial nominations have been a hot topic recently, with most stories focusing on the Senate fight over the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  For a different angle on the nomination process, take a look at this article that The Atlantic ran last week questioning why the White House isn’t making a greater effort to appoint more black judges to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and to the federal district courts in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  

While recognizing that the President “has nominated more women and candidates of color than any of his predecessors,” the article argues that the President has a “dismal record” in successfully appointing black men and women to the federal bench in these three particular states.  For example, in discussing appointments to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the article points out:

  • that the Eleventh Circuit’s territory has “the highest percentage of blacks” of any federal circuit territory in the country (approximately 25%);
  • that only one of the Eleventh Circuit’s sixteen judges is black;
  • that the Eleventh Circuit has had only two black judges since being created in 1981;
  • that the Eleventh Circuit has never had a black female judge;
  • that there have been six vacancies on the Eleventh Circuit since the President took office in 2009;
  • that the President has not appointed a single black man or woman to fill those vacancies.

That made me wonder: Is it fair, when assessing a president’s track record on appointing minorities to the bench, to consider the appointments region by region, or should we look at the president’s overall national numbers?  And, if we go region by region, should a region share some of the blame if it has low minority representation on the federal bench?  The Atlantic’s article recognizes that the three states’ Senate delegations have “something to do with” the lack of diversity in the federal courts in the Eleventh Circuit.  But it also says that “there is a lack of steel behind the White House’s push for judicial diversity” in those states.  Then it ends on this note:

The president’s failure to nominate more black candidates in those three states, and his refusal to fight more strenuously for those black candidates he has nominated there, is not the typical give-and-take of politics. In context, it’s a capitulation to southern Republican officials, including some of the very ones who helped doom the Voting Rights Act. Indeed, at a time when minorities are being disenfranchised by Republican officials in Florida and Alabama and other Southern states, the continuing lack of black representation on our federal benches sends another strong message of a tolerance for unequal justice.

 

It’s fair to ask why the presence of judges of a particular race ought to matter. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t. But the American legal system, and especially its criminal justice systems, still are riven by vast racial divides. Nowhere is this more true than in the Deep South, where racial disparity in sentencing still is profound and where black murder suspects are far more likely to be charged with a capital crime, and far more likely to be sentenced to death, than their white counterparts. President Obama, the noted constitutional scholar, knows all this. And yet he still fails to move decisively to remedy it.

Too harsh?  Not harsh enough?  For a comparison of the last three presidents’ nomination statistics, click here.  Let me hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments.

November 19, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Appellate Advocacy Blog is Here! Will SCOTUSblog be Gone?

While I am very excited about the launch of this blog, I must say I am equally concerned about the future of SCOTUSblog.  It was reported by the AP and USA Today on November 9 and confirmed by the ABA Journal in their November 11 post that attorney and founder Tom Goldstein intends to sell the blog.  With the blog being ranked as the 38th most popular of all time out of 5,521 legal blawgs on the Justia Blawg Directory, some people will be interested in acquiring the site.  However, if the reported $500,000 in annual expenses associated with the blog is accurate, a number of those interested may shy away from such an acquisition.  

Whatever happens to the site, it has been an invaluable resource over the years for not only my practice and subsequent academic career but certainly for countless lawyers, professors, law students and judges as well.  Their coverage of upcoming and even ongoing Supreme Court cases - even listening in on current arguments and sending real-time updates to their 144,933 Twitter followers - is arguable second to none.  

To bolster the value of the site, which currently has an expiring contract with Bloomberg Law, Mr. Goldstein is attempting to get the site press credentials.  This would seem to be a no-brainer given the popularity of the site and its timely reporting of everthing Supreme Court related.  However, the fact that the site is owned and operated by a lawyer who currently practices before the Supreme Court may give the Court reason to pause before formally recognizing the site as a legitimate news source worthy of receiving a press pass.  

This might promote the idea of selling the site to a non-lawyer.  Certainly this is a viable option, but wouldn't this make the site no different than the countless other entities covering SCOTUS happenings?  As a lawyer-run site, specifically a lawyer that has argued approximately 30 times in front of the Supreme Court over the past fifteen years (about 10% of the cases argued before the Court during that span), its posts are given substantial credibility within the legal community.    

We have a plethora of sites to visit for SCOTUS news, such as the popular How Appealing blog, the other 45 appellate blogs listed on Justia Blawg Directory, and of course this very Appellate Advocacy Blog that intends to cover appellate court cases on the state and federal level.   However, if SCOTUSblog does eventually cease to exist, it will be a huge loss.  Hopefully, that will not happen.

November 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Welcome to the Appellate Advocacy Blog

Welcome to the Appellate Advocacy Blog on the Law Professor Blogs Network. On this blog, we plan to address a wide variety of issues related to appellate justice. This includes appellate court advocacy  and practice, principles of appellate justice, appellate court jurisprudence on current issues, and legislative developments affecting the courts. We hope to keep our readers informed about cases and issues on appeal as well as scholarship, research, conferences, and news related to appellate courts. Our interest is in appellate advocacy and justice, broadly conceived, including state, federal, tribal, and international appellate courts. We hope that this blog will provide useful information, interesting perspectives, and fodder for engaging discussions.

 We welcome questions, ideas, and contributions from our readers. If you have information about recent articles, cases, news, or have a fresh perspective on an important issue regarding appellate courts, please contact us about having it posted. We are also open to adding contributing editors and hosting guest bloggers, so if you are interested, please contact us through the links in the masthead below. Thank you for visiting, and we look forward to hearing from you.

November 19, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)