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What are the Elements of a Written Appellate Brief?

One of the most important aspects of an appeal is the written brief. The written appellate brief collects, summarizes, explains, and argues every aspect of your appeal for the appellate judges to read prior to the oral arguments. The brief is comprehensive and contains many elements that systematically make the case to the higher court. At The Appellate Law Firm, our team of experienced appellate attorneys have mastered writing appellate briefs for our clients and can answer any questions that you may have about this step in the appeals process. To learn more, call or contact our office today.

Table of Contents

The first major element of a brief is the table of contents. This lists the sections and headings of the brief along with the corresponding page numbers.

Table of Citations

The next element is the table of citation or authorities, which lists all legal authorities cited throughout the brief. This includes all cases, statutes, and rules that are applicable to the case along with the corresponding page numbers in the brief. Cases are listed alphabetically and statutes numerically.

Questions or Issues Presented

The next section of the brief is the questions or issues presented in the case. This specifically outlines the legal problems with the trial court that the appellate court is being asked to reconsider.

Statement of the Case

The statement of the case explains to the appellate court the history and facts of the case based on the transcript and evidence presented along with the ruling of the lower court. This is not the section where a persuasive argument is made, and facts cannot be included that are new to the case. The statement of the case may only rely on what is already in the record, and each sentence must be cited to a particular page of the record where it can be found.

Summary of the Argument

The summary of the arguments is a roadmap for the appellate court that is an overview of the arguments presented in the subsequent section of the written brief. This section typically does not have citations and is one of the shortest elements of a written brief.

Discussion

The discussion, or argument, section is arguably the most important of the written appellate brief. It begins with the standard of review, which tells the appellate court whether this is an issue of law, fact, or both. It also dictates how much deference the appellate court must give to the lower court’s ruling. This section then provides a detailed argument for every issue presented on appeal, including the reasons why the lower court erred, the legal reasoning behind each argument, and the requested relief for each issue.

Conclusion

The conclusion is usually only one or two sentences and specifically tells the appellate court what relief the party is requesting for the case.

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Are you interested in appealing a civil or criminal case? If so, call or contact The Appellate Law Firm today to schedule a consultation of your case with one of our experienced attorneys today.