Appellate Practice

Solo Practitioners Don’t Have A Jackie Frankfurt

March 26, 2015 Appellate Practice

We had a tremendous support network at the public defender’s office in Philadelphia. There were social workers and mental health professionals. There were administrative staff focusing on probation, parole, and the expungement of criminal records. If you had a question about a particular point of law or opinion, there was a whole group of appellate […]

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Eliminate Adverbs. Improve Your Writing.

March 8, 2015 Appellate Practice

We all have our pet peeves when it comes to the English language. I had an English teacher in college who offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could find a single instance in which use of the word “utilization” would be preferable to “use.”  As far as I know, this reward is still […]

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On the Satisfaction of Doing Criminal Appeals

January 10, 2015 Appellate Practice

During the second semester of my senior year in college, I submitted a paper for my English class that was three-quarters of a page long. It was my last assignment for a class I was taking pass/fail and I already knew I was going to pass. But I had to turn in something — anything […]

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Delivering the News in an Appellate Case

December 20, 2013 Appellate Practice

I call my court-appointed client in an appellate case to give him the news. Although I know many things about this man, I have never actually met him.   Up until recently he has been serving time in an out-of-state federal prison.  I didn’t realize he was already home. Nor have I ever spoken to him […]

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Using An Ellipsis To Misrepresent Language

November 14, 2013 Appellate Practice

You have to be honest with the court.  Your client’s fate depends on it.  So does your reputation.  It is one of the first things we learn in ethics class. MPD General Order 601.02 reads as follows: Members of the Department shall preserve all potentially discoverable material, including any such material, which may prove favorable […]

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Legal Writing As Poetry

November 11, 2013 Appellate Practice

One of my sister’s creative writing teachers told her once that you figure out the line you like best in the piece you have written. And then you delete it.  The chances are good that you have over-invested in this line.  The chances are good that this is the line that is holding your writing […]

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Ready for DUI/DWI Appeals in D.C.

November 5, 2013 Appellate Practice

It is amazing to me there aren’t more appellate DUI/DWI decisions in D.C. Yes, a recent case – Taylor v. District of Columbia – dealt with the legal definition of impairment. Beyond that, however, there are few cases in an area of the law that is in urgent need of reform. Take existing case law on […]

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Mindy Daniels, My Reluctant Mentor

December 20, 2012 Appellate Practice

She doesn’t know it yet but Mindy Daniels is going to be my mentor on all things having to do with the D.C. Court of Appeals. One of the first things I do whenever I start out in a new jurisdiction is to decide which lawyers I admire most. I then glom onto them. I […]

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Playing Fair in Appellate Practice

December 15, 2012 Appellate Practice

I get the government’s response to my first appellate brief, and I realize that this appellate work is going to be much harder than I had anticipated. Never having done appeals before, I am used to dealing with overworked county prosecutors who cut-and-paste their responses to my filings (motions to sever, to suppress, to compel, […]

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