Monday, May 07, 2007

Authority on Appeal

Howard Bashman has good essay up on citing authority on appeal. Here is a taste:

Yet all authority is not created equal. If you are briefing an appeal in a particular federal appellate court, and the appeal's outcome depends on federal law, the best possible authority that one could cite would be the binding precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. Equally as good, in most instances, would be an earlier precedential ruling from the same federal appellate court in which the current appeal is pending.

Sometimes, however, no binding precedent yet exists from either of those sources. In that circumstance, it would certainly be useful to cite to relevant rulings from other federal appellate courts. If other federal appellate courts have all construed the law's meaning the same way, the court before which the current appeal is pending will likely be reluctant to "split the circuits" by construing the law to mean the opposite of what the other courts have ruled.

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