Under federal rules governing briefs, the statement of the case includes the statement of facts. See Fed. R. App. P. 28(a)(6). But in Louisiana appellate courts, the Uniform Rules distinguish the statement of the case from the statement of facts. See Unif. R. 2-12.4(A)(4) and (7). In this post, I’ll try to explain what the statement of the case should do and, along the way, distinguish it from the statement of facts.
Under Uniform Rule 2-12.4(A)(4), the statement of the case must state “the nature of the case, the action of the trial court and the disposition ....” In his book Winning on Appeal, Judge Ruggero Aldisert offered this guidance for writing a statement of the case:
A succinct statement of the case in your brief tells the appellate court “how you got here.” In this portion of the brief you verify the procedural history of the case by answering these questions:
- Who: Who won in the trial court? Who is taking the appeal?
- What: What is the general area of law implicated in the appeal, and what specifically are the issues?
- Where: Where has the case been so far? A trial court, administrative agency or intermediate court?
- When: When was the alleged error committed? During the pre-trial, trial or post-trial stage?
- How: How was the case resolved? By summary judgment, a directed verdict, a jury verdict or a nonjury award?
Ruggero J. Aldisert, Winning on Appeal § 9.1, at 147 (rev. 1st ed.).
In addition to these points, remember where the statement of the case fits into the brief’s structure: it immediately precedes the assignments of error and issues for review. So in addition to what’s required by the Uniform Rules, the statement of the case should provide context to help the reader understand the assignments of error and issues for review. If done right, it helps the reader view the case from your perspective without being overtly argumentative.
For an example of a statement of the case, follow this link. This example comes from a brief medical-malpractice case (all names changed). The marginal comments point out where the writer tried to convey the information required by Rule 2-12.4 and suggested by Judge Aldisert. The writer also attempted to provide enough information for the reader to understand—on the first read—the assignments of error and issues for review, which immediately followed. It includes a broad overview of the case’s facts; the details (with supporting record citations) are in the statement of facts.