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November 2012
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December 2012

Crawling through the record.

I spent most of my day today assessing the record in a newly lodged appeal. This record is bigger than most: 125 volumes. So it was tedious work, and not quite done when I went home for the weekend.

So what is this “assessing the record”? It’s quite simple. When you get the record (the first thing to do when the record is lodged in the court of appeal), you go through it page by page to make sure that nothing you need is missing. If the appellate-court clerk does not allow you to borrow the exhibits, you must go to the clerk’s office and go through the exhibits there, to make sure that the exhibits you need are there.

If the record is incomplete in a material way, immediately file a motion to supplement the record and to suspend the briefing deadlines. In my experience, the courts readily grant these motions. If you are in a generous mood, contact opposing counsel to inform them of the record’s incompleteness and to get their consent to the motion. If they have half a brain, they will allow you to inform the court that the motion is unopposed.

This advice is more important than anything I can tell you about writing your brief or delivering your oral argument. If it’s not in the record, then as far as the court of appeal is concerned, it doesn’t exist.


For La. lawyers needing last-minute CLE, a one-hour legal-writing clinic.

If you are a procrastinating Louisiana lawyer still needing CLE credit, consider signing up for theLouisiana State Bar Association’s Multi-Section CLE, December 18–19 at the NOLA Sheraton. I will be filling in for my comrade Louis LaCour for the Appellate Section’s presentation at 8 a.m. on the 18th. The presentation will be a legal-writing clinic on techniques for emphasizing favorable stuff and de-emphasizing unfavorable stuff.