Notice of appeal in a post-conviction proceeding must be filed within 60 days of service of notice of entry of judgment. If notice of entry is not served, the 60-day appeal period is not triggered. See N.D.R.App.P. 4(d).
An appeal in a proceeding under the Uniform Juvenile Court Act must be filed within 30 days of service of the notice of entry of judgment, order, or decree appealed. See N.D.R.App.P. 4(e).
A cost bond on appeal is now required only if ordered by the district court. . See N.D.R.App.P. 7.
The standard of review most often determines the outcome of the appeal. Trial judges rarely have abused their discretion. Findings of fact usually aren't clearly erroneous. Most reversals are on questions of law, which are reviewed de novo. (But clearly established precedent is seldom overruled.)
When your client wants to appeal as a matter of principle, tell the client how much principal it will take.
"The filing of an appeal should never be a conditioned reflex. About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop." —Hill v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co., 814 F.2d 1192, 1202 (7th Cir.1987).
Remember, you probably know much more about the case than the Court. That can be dangerous if you don't step back and provide context for your argument.
Be respectful, but also be self-respectful.
Seek to persuade, not to show how much you know.
You serve your client by maintaining your own credibility.
Omitting key facts destroys your credibility when the other side points them out.
Acknowledge obvious weaknesses in your case and explain why you should win anyway.
Tell the Court clearly why you think your position is correct.
The Supreme Court is not the place to make a jury argument.
Be a resource to the Court to help it understand the law and the facts.
Drop the hyperbole!!!
Cheap shots at the other side will only hurt your case.
"Civility is not too much to expect in a civilized society's alternative to brute force, stealth, and deception." See Jacobson v. Garaas, 2002 ND 181, ¶ 37, 652 N.W.2d 918.
Not every lawyer excess is justified by the mantra of zealous representation. See Jacobson v. Garaas, 2002 ND 181, ¶ 23, 652 N.W.2d 918.
A lawyer is not always protected by following the client's specific directions. See Jacobson v. Garaas, 2002 ND 181, ¶ 23, 652 N.W.2d 918.
Summary judgment can't be reversed on appeal based on what you wish you had presented in the trial court, only on what was presented as competent evidence in the trial court.
If no verbatim record of the evidence or proceedings at a hearing or trial was made or no transcript is available, the record may be supplemented as provided by rule.See N.D.R.App.P. 10.
If the transcript contains errors, a motion to correct the record should be made to the trial court. See N.D.R.App.P. 10(h).
If material considered by the trial court is not in the record, a motion to correct the record should be made to the trial court. See N.D.R.App.P. 10(h).
The Clerk of the Supreme Court and the Chief Deputy Clerk are lawyers specializing in appealability and Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Appellate rules are not hoops to jump through, but means to promote fairness and to help the Court do its job.
The Clerk of the Supreme Court enforces the rules and carries out the directives of the Court.
Comply with deadlines set by the Supreme Court Clerk's Office.
Do not ignore correspondence from the Supreme Court Clerk's Office requesting case information or directing specific action.
Parties who file documents electronically with the Supreme Court should refer to the docket number in the subject line of their filing e-mail.
Seek a stay from the trial court before seeking one from the Supreme Court. See N.D.R.App.P. 8(a).
When seeking a stay from the Supreme Court, include the relevant parts of the record. See N.D.R.App.P. 8(a).
When seeking a stay from the Supreme Court, include the application made to the trial court and the trial court's denial of the stay. See N.D.R.App.P. 8(a).
An application for a stay must show the reasons for the relief requested and the facts relied on, and, if the facts are subject to dispute, affidavits or other sworn statements must be included. See N.D.R.App.P. 8(a).
Before writing your brief, master the record and the law.
Oral argument is no substitute for a good brief.
Know where your brief is going before you start writing it.
Raise only important issues. Trivial issues detract from important ones.
Only "the names and addresses of counsel representing the party on whose behalf the document is filed" are to be listed on the covers of appellate briefs; counsel for other parties are not to be listed. See N.D.R.App.P. 32.
The Table of Contents should include the text of each issue, not just "Issue I," "Issue II," etc. Use normal capitalization in the Table of Contents.
Don't type the Statement of Issues in all capital letters. Sentences in all capital letters are hard to read. Use normal capitalization.
Citations to the law and to the record are counted in the maximum number of words for briefs. See N.D.R.App.P. 28.
Don't make your brief a mystery. Tell the reader what the case is about right up front. The Statement of the Case should clearly and concisely tell what the case is about in the opening sentence. For example: "This is an appeal from summary judgment of dismissal of a negligence action, arising out of an automobile accident." "A jury found the defendant guilty of manslaughter. The defendant appeals, contending...."
Number the paragraphs in briefs.
A long brief should have a summary of the argument.
As much as possible, avoid referring to parties by "appellant" or "appellee." Instead, use "the designations used in the trial court or in the agency proceedings, or the actual names of parties, or descriptive terms such as: 'the employee,' 'the injured person,' 'the taxpayer,' 'the purchaser.'"
Generally, shortened names are better than acronyms.
Statements of the facts should be placed in chronological order, not in the order of testimony.
Present the facts in an accurate, fair, persuasive manner.
If you disagree with the facts, point them out up front (not that you will point it out in the argument).
Don't argue the case in your statement facts.
Don't ignore unfavorable facts. Refer to them in a way that does the least harm.
State the standard of review for each issue.
Put citations in the body of the brief, not in footnotes.
Refer to the appendix and the transcript by page and line number.
Following each sentence stating a fact, include the record reference. See N.D.R.App.P. 28(e).
Avoid footnotes. Don't put your citations in footnotes. Never put substantive argument in a footnote.
The word "clearly" is no substitute for authority or logic.
Arguing in favor of the position taken in a recent dissent is almost never successful
Always use the medium-neutral case citation (e.g., 1997 ND 103, ¶ 23) for North Dakota appellate decisions after January 1, 1997. Include a parallel primary N.W.2d citation when it becomes available. Opinions on this website are annotated with the N.W.2d citations when they become available. See N.D.R.Ct.11.6.
Case citations should always include a specific page or paragraph.
Include the full text of key statutes.
If there is legal authority that actually supports your position, put it in the body of your brief, not in a footnote.
Footnotes in a brief reflect an inability to craft a coherent linear argument.
If something is important enough to be in your brief, put it in the body of the brief, not in a footnote. If it is not important enought to be in the body of your brief, don't put it in a footnote, leave it out.
Don't talk in jargon, whether legal or technical.
Define medical terms in your brief the first time you use them.
Never use many words when a few will do. A longer brief is not necessarily a better brief.
Cite only cases you have actually read.
Long quotations usually are not effective.
Make sure cases and statutes are cited correctly. Make sure cases cited are still good law.
Read the cases cited by your opponent.
Avoid "legalese." Don't use "pursuant to," "hereinafter," "herein."Never use "said" as an adjective or an article .Clear languagenot pompous or ponderous languageis most effective.
The possessive "its" has no apostrophe, just as there is no apostrophe in "his," "hers," "theirs," "yours," and "ours." "It's," with the apostrophe, means "it is." "It's" can be used only when "it is" could be substituted.
"Good legal writing should not differ, without good reason, from ordinary well-written English."Richard Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers.
Pretentious words can't hide the lack of substance.
If a one-syllable word means the same thing, use the one-syllable word.
Delete adjectives and adverbs.
The respondent and members of the respondent's family in a conservatorship or guardianship proceeding may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but may be referred to by initials. N.D.R.App.P. 14.
The child and parents in a proceeding to terminate parental rights may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but may be referred to by initials. N.D.R.App.P. 14.
To help maintain privacy, do not include children's names in briefs in family law cases and most other cases. Children can be referred to by initials or descriptive phrases such as "the child," "the younger child," or "the older daughter."
Minor children may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but they may be referred to by their initials. N.D.R.App.P. 14.
To help maintain privacy, do not include the names of crime victims in briefs, except for homicide victims.
N.D.R.App.P. 14 prohibits the use of the full name of the alleged victim of a sexual offense in material submitted to the Supreme Court.
A victim or alleged victim of a sexual offense may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but may be referred to by initials. N.D.R.App.P. 14.
The respondent in a mental health proceeding may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but may be referred to by initials. N.D.R.App.P. 14.
The respondent in a juvenile proceeding may not be referred to by name in briefs or at oral argument, but may be referred to by initials.
To help preserve privacy and prevent identity theft, do not include precise dates of birth in briefs, unless the precise date of birth is essential to the appeal. Usually, the year of birth is sufficient.
Omit names of confidential informants and citizen informants from briefs. Instead, use descriptive terms such as "a confidential informant" or "a citizen."
Do not include Social Security Numbers or financial account numbers in briefs.
Omit needless words.
Long sentences are confusing.
Use short sentences.
Limit yourself to one idea per sentence.
Avoid repetitious arguments.
"Always use your computer's spell check, and never trust it." —Steve Wilbers, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs." United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991).
"Error" is a noun."Err" is a verb .A party errs by saying "The trial court did not error . . ."
"Time period" is redundant.
"Realtor" is a trademark used by members of the National Association of Realtors. The correct term in legal writing is usually "real estate agent."
At the end of your brief, state clearly and concisely what specific action you are seeking from the appellate court. For example, if you are the appealing party, it's not enough to ask the court to say the trial court was wrong, you must say what you are asking the appellate court to do about it. See N.D.R.App.P. 28.
Although there are specific rules about the format of the brief, ease of reading is always the goal. Any combination of font size and line length resulting in an average of more than 65 characters per line is hard to read. Make your brief easy to read. See N.D.R.App.P. 32.
Briefs should have a binding allowing them to lie open without having to be held down. Justices often have more documents open than they have hands.
Electronic copies of briefs may include hypertext linking within the brief (for example, from the Table of Contents to the various parts of the brief) and to Internet sources (such as opinions or rules on this website).
Parties who file documents electronically with the Supreme Court should refer to the docket number in the subject line of their filing e-mail.
Proofread. Then proofread again.
Only material actually in the trial court record may be included in the appendix. See N.D.R.App.P 30.
The appendix must be in chronological order (as listed in the trial court docket). See N.D.R.App.P. 30.
File an appropriate appendix. If the judge's reasoning is in the transcript, include those pages of the transcript. See N.D.R.App.P. 30(a)(2).
Except for brief excerpts showing the judge's reasoning, district court transcripts filed in electronic form should not be included in the appendix. See N.D.R.App.P. 30(a)(2).
Only items that have not been included in the appellant's appendix may be included in the appellee's or cross-appellant's appendix. See N.D.R.App.P. 30(b).
Items in the appellant's appendix may not be duplicated in the appellee's or cross-appellant's appendix.
When an appendix item contains multiple parts or attachments, separately list each part or attachment in the table of contents. See N.D.R.App.P. 32.
Separately list in the table of contents attachments to motions or other documents.
Number pages consecutively from the beginning to the end of the appendix. See N.D.R.App.P. 32.
All electronic copies of briefs must contain in a single file all information contained in the paper brief, including cover, table of contents, and certifications, in the same order as in the paper brief. See N.D.R.App.P. 31(b)(1)(C).
If your appendix is too large to send in a single pdf (portable document format) file, edit it. If it is still too large, send it in a single file on a cd or dvd. It will still be treated as an electronically filed document.
E-filed motions must have numbered paragraphs, the same as briefs.
Don't forget to forward the $25 surcharge within 5 days of forwarding briefs for e-filing under N.D.Sup.Ct. Administrative Order 14. If it is not received, the brief may not be accepted, which may subject the appeal to dismissal or some other appropriate sanction.
When electronic filing, documents must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Facsimile transmission can only be used for appendices and when e-mail is not possible.
Lawyers must keep their e-mail addresses up to date with the State Board of Law Examiners.
The Supreme Court Clerk's Office sends out notices of oral argument, filing, deadlines, orders, and other correspondence by e-mail rather than U.S. Mail. For a self-represented party without an e-mail address, a paper copy of the e-mail will be mailed to the party's street or post office box address.
Each party has a duty to advise the court if the appeal may have become moot, but the party may argue why the Court should still decide the case. See N.D.R.App.P. 42(c).
The primary purpose of oral argument is to answer the Court's questions.
Effective March 1, 2003: "Oral argument may be denied if a party fails to file a brief or if the court, upon examination of the briefs and record, decides that oral argument is unnecessary." SeeN.D.R.App.P. 34(a)(2) with amendment.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Review the record and your cases and your opponent's cases before oral argument. Check this website for opinions issued since you filed your brief. If you didn't handle the case in the trial court, you are still expected to be familiar with the record.
Be prepared to discuss each case you cite and each case your opponent cites.
Start off oral argument on the right foot. The traditional opening is "May it please the court," not "If it please court." In North Dakota, the Supreme Court has a "Chief Justice" and "Justices," not "Associate Justices."
Usually, it is not helpful at oral argument to spend very much time reiterating the facts.
Listen carefully to the question and understand it before answering.
Answer the question when it is asked.
Don't answer a question with a question.
If you don't know the answer to a question, say so.
If the premise of a question is wrong, politely say so.
If a Justice throws you a life preserver, don't bat it away.
Justices ask hypothetical questions because they are concerned about how the decision in your case may affect other cases. What are the limits of the principle you advocate?
Remember, the Justice asking the question isn't the only audience for your answer.
Oral argument is not the time to present a list of cases that could have and should have been in your brief.
Don't talk faster than the Justices can listen.
Speak up, but don't shout.
Stay behind the podium.
You don't have to use all your time at oral argument.
Watch the podium time lights.
When your time is up, your time is up. Stop.
Don't ask, "May I briefly conclude?"
Don't visibly (or audibly) respond to argument except while at the podium.
Wireless Internet is available in the Supreme Court's Ralph J. Erickstad Courtroom.
Petitions for Rehearing
Petitions for Rehearing are rarely granted.
Don't file a petition for rehearing if the real audience is the client.
Petition for rehearing only when the appellate court has made a glaring error.
A Petition for Rehearing will not succeed by simply parroting the dissent.
A Petition for Rehearing merely repeating the argument previously made is pointless. See N.D.R.App.P. 40.
The most effective Petition for Rehearing will state with particularity the points of law or fact that the Court has in fact overlooked or misapprehended .See N.D.R.App.P. 40.
Administrative Agencies Practice Act
When an agency requests that the Office of Administrative Hearings designate an Administrative Law Judge to issue a final decision, and appeal is not expressly prohibited, the requesting agency may appeal. See N.D. Securities Commissioner v. Juran and Moody, Inc., 2000 ND 136, 613 N.W.2d 503.
Under the Administrative Agencies Practice Act, the District Court is not a trial court, but the first level of appellate court. See N.D.C.C. 28-32-19.
Under the Administrative Agencies Practice Act, the scope of an appeal is limited by the specifications of error filed with the notice of appeal to the District Court. See N.D.C.C. 28-32-19.
In Administrative Agency Practice Act appeals, material in the agency record contained in the Appendix must be in chronological order. See N.D.R.App.P. 30.
Under the Administrative Agencies Practice Act, the evidentiary record cannot be supplemented on appeal except upon remand to the agency. See N.D.C.C. 28-32-18.
In Administrative Agency Practice Act appeals, the standard of review for findings of fact is very deferential: Could a reasoning mind reasonably have determined the findings were proven by the weight of the evidence from the entire record? See Power Fuels, Inc. v. Elkin, 283 N.W.2d 214, 220 (N.D. 1979).
In Administrative Agency Practice Act appeals, questions of law are fully reviewable, but deference is given to long-standing agency interpretations.
Appellate practice tips are compiled from the "Appellate practice tip of the week" through April 11, 2014.