What an auspicious day to launch an appellate blog – tax day!  As a former resident of Chicago, I vividly recollect our Mayor and fellow Northwestern alum, Harold Washington, getting into a little trouble with the IRS for forgetting to file his tax returns.  I thought it somewhat ironic that he would forget, given that his birthday was … that’s right … April 15.  Northwestern never really knew what to do about Mayor Washington — depending on what was going on in the news, they kept moving his photograph around in the room with the pictures of all our illustrious graduates (with Justice Stevens holding the star position).

In any event, as the little message on the left side of this site indicates, with the start of this blog, we hope to start a dialogue about various issues relevant to Maine appellate law – recent appellate decisions, upcoming events, and so on.  As another little message indicates, readers are encouraged to contact us – just click on the email address and we’ll start posting. 

Here are a few recent developments of interest:

  • The MSBA is holding a seminar on appellate practice with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on April 24 at the civic center.  All the Justices appear to be scheduled to attend, and I certainly plan to be there.
  • My understanding is that Justice Alexander, with Nancy Wanderer’s contribution on writing briefs, will be coming out with a third edition of his Maine Appellate Practice treatise soon, from Tower Publishing.   
  • Bill Kayatta of Pierce Atwood had a victory in the First Circuit recently of some importance on the class action front –  In re New Motor Vehicles Canadian Export, 07-2257 (3-28-08).  It was an interlocutory appeal of a class certification, and Judge Lynch provides a thorough overview of several issues relating to how the court on such an appeal will review the district court’s preliminary findings with respect to commonality and so on.  Basically, there’s been a range of views among the circuits as to the degree to which the trial court should examine the facts grounding the plaintiff’s argument that class requirements are met, when those facts overlap with the merits of the case.  The thrust of Judge Lynch’s decision is that the First Circuit’s previous statements that it will engage in a critical assessment of the plaintiff’s evidence has real teeth:  "Under this circuit’s approach, in our view, a searching inquiry is in order where there are not only disputed basic facts, but also a novel theory of legally cognizable injury…. we …hold that when a Rule 23 requirement relies on a novel or complex theory as to injury, as the predominance inquiry does in this case, the district court must engage in a searching inquiry into the viability of that theory and the existence of the facts necessary for the theory to succeed."

More on some interesting recent Law Court decisions to come.

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