Appellate Briefs

Proposed Amendments to the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure

The Advisory Committee on the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure, of which I am a member, has been working with the SJC on potential changes to the rules.  The Court has made the proposals publicly available, and has invited public comment.  The deadline for any comments is July 1.

A quick summary of key changes may be helpful (though you should note this list isn’t exhaustive):

  1. Rule 1C: Electronic Signatures. The proposed rules include a new Rule 1C, which permits lawyers to sign documents electronically.  This will be familiar to practitioners, as it is patterned on and would make permanent the SJC’s pandemic orders permitting electronic signatures.
  2. Rule 2A(b): Appearances of Counsel. The amendments would clarify that, when an appeal is docketed in the Law Court, only members of the Maine bar are deemed to represent parties on appeal.  Any out-of-state attorneys must file a

All Cleaned Up

Appellate advocacy is about persuasion – and the most important avenue for persuading appellate judges is a brief that is clear, concise, and readable.  So what does an appellate attorney do when confronted by the need to quote a passage that contains ellipses, citations, or alterations in brackets?  One less-than-desirable option is to include all of that extraneous material and a long citation string, making for a hard-to-read quote that is central to your case.  But there is another option – and it was just endorsed by Justice Thomas last month.

A little bit of background:  As discussed over at the Appellate Advocacy Blog, Jack Metzler began a conversation about this issue by suggesting that unnecessary quotation clutter could be omitted if the citation for the quote is followed by the parenthetical “(cleaned up).”  The proposal has its supporters, including no less than Bryan Garner, but also its critics.  The approach would improve readability, but might become a crutch that encourages appellate lawyers