MODERN LEGAL WRITING
DAVID LEWIS, J.
This four-part article series summarizes the results of surveys sent to state and federal appellate court judges to evaluate their advocacy preferences. This part 2 discusses the types of errors commonly found in briefs so that attorneys can avoid them in their writing.
discussed in part 1 of this series,
I sent surveys to all federal and state appellate judges within the federal First, Second, Third, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits. The courts surveyed comprise 39 appellate courts in 18 states. I received responses from 192 judges, a response rate of slightly under 43%. This is a relatively high response rate for a survey that was submitted “cold” (i.e., I didn’t prepare anyone ahead of time). The survey contained 86 questions divided into seven sections:
1. The Structural Elements of Briefs
2. Use of Authority and the Record
3. Writing Style and Advocacy
4. Typography of Briefs
5. Physical Characteristics of Appellate Work Product
6. Frequency of Certain Errors
7. Oral Argument.
This article presents the survey results for the “Frequency of Certain Errors” section. In this section, the judges were provided a list of common errors. Those errors ranged from substantive mistakes (e.g., misstating the record) to technical issues (e.g., improper punctuation). Judges were...