Appellate Briefs - January 2013: Appeals Are Like the Holidays


Appeals Are Like the Holidays

The holidays are a time of old traditions and new beginnings, much like an appeal.  Okay, I'm reasonably confident a number of readers are thinking this is at least a stretch, and maybe a ridiculous comparison, so let me explain. 
Appellate practice continues many hallowed traditions, such as beginning oral arguments with "May it please the court." This is not required, but many appellate lawyers still recite that as an opening line. So, too, the rules governing appeals are full of tradition, such as requiring a statement of the standard of review even when it is well known for a particular issue. And there is an often-unspoken tradition among the appellate bar of heightened professionalism and courtesy, perhaps easier to maintain in a smaller bar that usually avoids some of the more contentious parts of litigation, like discovery.
But appellate practice also includes new beginnings. For example, the state appellate courts all are moving toward e-filing. Although the dates have been extended, it seems likely all of the districts will be online by year's end. I suspect briefs with hyperlinks to the actual record (pleadings, motions, transcripts) and case law will be commonplace in the near future, and even some of the "old" rules have changed. 
In this way, maybe an appeal is a bit like our personal lives in the early days of January - an opportunity to combine the best of traditions, customs and habits with the promise of a new beginning, to change in some positive way the path on which we travel. 

I hope the holidays brought you peace and joy, and wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.   

Another FAQ Coming Soon

We have received great feedback to the Frequently Asked Questions series introduced several months ago. Do you have a question you'd like to ask an appellate attorney? Email Marie  and look for it in future issues of Appellate Briefs.

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Marie Tomassi is Florida Bar Board Certified in Appellate Practice. She has been an attorney with Trenam Kemker since 1988 and serves on the firm's three person Management Committee. She can be reached at or 727-820-3952.

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