Appellate cases are decided by written briefs rather than trials. Instead of putting on witnesses, each side writes a brief that can be as long as 70 or 80 pages. Because appellate briefs can be both long and dense, how they are written and organized are subject to strict rules.
UPDATE: As of October 1, 2020, the briefing rules have been modified. Check out our blog post for the changes to Alabama appellate briefs or skip ahead to the sample brief below.
What’s Included in the Title Page?
The title page to the appellate brief includes the caption which identifies the parties. It should say what court the case was appealed from.
This picture of a title page, for example, states that it is from the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County. If you want to request oral argument, the request must be made on the title page.
Appellate Rules Dictate How the Brief Looks
Appellate briefs have a color scheme. Cover pages, like the one in the picture, must be submitted in the appropriate color. The appellant’s brief should be submitted with a blue cover and the appellee in red. Reply briefs get a gray cover.
The appellate rules also dictate the font and size that must be used on the brief. The text must be Courier New and sized to 13 point font. Courier New is a “monospaced slab serif typeface” designed to look like it was created by a typewriter. Basically, the rules require that you ask your computer to dress up the text to look like it predates the digital age. [UPDATE – as of October 1, 2020, this rule has been changed – see below.]
Follow the Rules, Or Else…
If you don’t follow the rules for briefs, the court might dismiss your case. Usually, you will get more than one chance to comply with the rules. However, too many failed attempts at compliance could mean losing your case.
Indeed, that happened to an appellant in a recent Browne House Law case. In that case, the Court of Civil Appeals refused to address the legal issues the appellant raised. Instead, it ruled for our client solely because the case hadn’t been properly briefed. Moreover, the court awarded attorney fees for failure to comply with the rules.
Check Out and Download Our Sample Brief
Appellate Rule 28 lists thirteen specific parts to include in your brief. Your brief should include all thirteen parts as well. While we can’t tell you what to write in those sections, we can help you put them together.
We’ve put it all together in a .pdf that you can sample and review. It’s got everything from the cover page to the certificate of service. To see what the brief looks like or download the sample appellate brief, click on the link: UPDATED-Sample-Appellant-Brief.
Where to Get More Help With Your Appeal:
- For information about when to start the process with your Notice of Appeal check out our post on the subject;
- Read the two main Appellate Rules on the format requirements of appellate briefs in Appellate Rule 28 and Appellate Rule 32;
- For tips on how to write the argument portion and otherwise fill in your brief, check out our post on the topic; and
- Contact the lawyers at Browne House Law for help with your Alabama appeal.