A lesson in how not to write a brief
Tips for writing the statement of the case

New year, new rules.

As we say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014, let’s be reminded that significant amendments to Louisiana’s briefing rules are becoming effective. So here’s a suggestion about those old briefs that you use as models or templates for brief-writing: throw them away, because starting January 1, 2014, they will become obsolete.

Highlights of the new briefing rules include the following:

  • You’ll get more pages (31 legal-size pages instead of 28), but will have to include more stuff in the page limit (everything except the cover, table of contents, table of authorities, and certificate of service). So no more circumventing the page limit by loading argument into what are supposed to be non-argumentative elements of the brief.
  • A table of authorities will be now mandatory.
  • The jurisdictional statement will need to be tailored to the specific case. The old boilerplate citation to the Louisiana Constitution won’t do. Instead, your jurisdictional statement will have to prove (a) that the judgment is appealable, and (b) that the appeal is timely.
  • The statement of the case will be separate from the statement of facts.
  • A summary of the argument will be mandatory.

You can read the amendments themselves by clicking here, and can read the Louisiana First Circuit’s summary of the amendments by clicking here.

Also on January 1, an amendment to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit’s local rules becomes effective. The amendment concerns untimely requests for oral argument. Until now, if you blew the deadline to file a request for oral argument, you could always file a motion to reinstate oral argument, which would be routinely granted. Now, at least in the Fourth Circuit, your motion will have to explain why your request is tardy and whether opposing counsel has any objection.

So tonight, celebrate the New Year with champagne or your favorite sparkling non-alcoholic cider. Tomorrow, eat some black-eyed peas and cabbage for good luck and good fortune in the new year. And the day after tomorrow, update your form file by tossing your old Louisiana briefing forms.

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