The Sections of An Appellate Court Brief
The Rules of Appellate Procedure in your jurisdiction dictate the sections required in your appellate court brief. Therefore, it is important to check those rules before you begin writing your brief. However many of the major requirements regarding the format of your appellate brief are similar.
The Appellate Brief Should Include:
- Cover Page
- Correct Page Numbering
- A Table of Contents
- A Table of Authorities
- A Jurisdictional Statement
- Statement of the Issues Presented for Review
- Statement of the Case
- Statement of the Facts
- Summary of the Argument
- The Argument Section
- Standard of Review
- Certificate of Compliance
Formatting An Appellate Brief
After you’ve checked the rules for your jurisdiction and written the brief, the next step is to format your document in Word. Formatting an appellate court brief is a long, tedious, and time-consuming process. You should not try to reformat a brief written already written by someone else. An appellate brief is an advanced document in Word. Even if you delete all of the contents, the file will still contain the data,
This negatively affects performance even after you think you’ve deleted everything. These performance issues can potentially cause hours of lost time.
The fastest and easiest way to format your appellate court brief is to use a Word document that was specifically formatted to be an appellate brief, while not containing the data from a previous brief.
The downloadable template has carefully-created styles, headings, pagination, and a properly formatted table of contents and table of authorities. There are numerous and extensive tutorials on formatting an appellate court brief, or you can save hours of time and download a template for Word.
The appellate court brief cover page is the first page of your appellate brief and contains the necessary introductory aspects one would expect from a cover page. It is the Court’s first impression of your brief.
The cover page of your appellate brief should not be numbered. Therefore, when creating your cover page, you should divide your brief into sections to ensure proper pagination. This is possible in Word and is included in the Appellate Brief Template for Word.
In Most Jurisdictions, Your Appellate Court Brief Cover Page Must Include:
- The number of the case;
- The name of the parties;
- The name of the court;
- The title of the case;
- The nature of the proceeding;
- The title of the brief;
- Attorney information;
- Correct pagination;
Aesthetically, your cover page should be divided with horizontal lines that separate each of the above-mentioned sections.
Creating a Table of Contents in Word
The appellate brief table of contents is the index of your brief. Creating a table of contents in Word requires time, trial, and error.
While there are voluminous guides on how to format an appellate court brief, each Appellate Brief Template has a pre-formatted table of contents. This allows you to create a new table of contents with each revision while maintaining proper formatting.
Word creates a table of contents by using the assigned headings of your brief to create a list that has it’s own formatting options. You can assign headings using Word’s ‘Styles’ feature, located within the ribbon in Microsoft Word.
Defining styles allows you to create preset font formats that can be applied to multiple parts of your brief.
These presets are used to generate the table of contents. They also serve other purposes. For example, you could create a style that sets up a block quote or a footnote format and then use that style in multiple documents without having to apply new formatting rules. These styles are included in the template with instructions on using them.
As noted above, there are a copious amount of guides and tutorials for creating and editing a table of contents. This is because the process is not very intuitive and highly prone to error. If you fail to properly define your styles and headings, you will waste hours trying to format your appellate court brief.
Further, without using pre-defined styles, you run the risk of inadvertently applying new rules to the headings in your brief. When creating your table of contents, properly defining and formatting the styles can turn a painful process into a non-issue.
The appellate brief template saves you hours of time because it includes a pre-formatted table of contents. All of the headings and sub-headings needed to generate your table of contents are already defined. This makes what would otherwise be a painful formatting process into a simple matter of copying and pasting, or selecting your desired format from the Styles Ribbon in Word. Customizations are easy and the template includes instructions to help you customize any aspect of your brief.
Table of Authorities
The appellate court brief table of authorities is an index of the cases, statutes, and other rules used in your brief. In order to create a table of authorities, you must mark each use of the citation in Word. When marking a new case citation, you should define the case as it appears in the case reporter, though you may use a different pinpoint page when writing the actual citation in your brief. When you create the table of authorities, it will list each use of the case citation and its corresponding page number.
Mark Your Citations Correctly The First Time
It is incredibly important to mark your initial citations correctly the first time. Word creates case citations by using a markup code. If you make an error, you’ll have to hunt through Word’s citation markup code, potentially wasting hours formatting your brief instead of writing it.
Additionally, you must make sure that your appellant brief’s table of authorities uses the font formatting you used in your brief the first time you created the citation. The sub-headings of your table of authorities must also be formatted to the font-style used in your brief, something Microsoft Word does not do by default.
As with the table of contents and table of authorities, formatting the appellate brief page numbers is facially benign but cumulatively cumbersome and difficult. The problem lies in that you need three different numbering schemes in your appellate court brief.
Dividing Your Brief Into Sections
In order to achieve this, you must define these different sections in Microsoft Word. The first section consists of the cover page and has no number on the first page. The second section includes the table of contents and table of authorities. Here, the pagination should be formatted as lowercase roman numerals and begin on ‘i’. Finally, the last section of your brief should use standard Arabic numbering beginning on ‘1’. Word’s user interface simply does a poor job in allowing for this.
Like with many of the topics discussed, there are multifarious tutorials on properly paginating your appellate court brief. Alternatively, you can download the Appellate Brief Template for Word. The template includes proper pagination formatting along with many other quality of life features to help you write your brief faster and easier.