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Monday, March 27, 2006

Reply briefs. I had stated a couple of weeks ago, that I would be blogging about issues of general interest to appellate lawyers. This is the first such post. I have been reading Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert's Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs and Oral Arguments. Judge Aldisert makes a statement that I have also heard from other jurists, but with which I could never agree. He suggests that reply briefs should only be filed in very limited circumstances. From the judge's point of view, I can understand that less paper is better than more paper. But from an attorney's point of view, it makes no sense. The appellee, since he files his brief after the appellant, get's a chance to comment on the points made by the appellant. The appellant, however, if no reply brief is filed, never gets a chance to take issue with the appellee's points (especially if there is no oral argument). In most cases, the appellee will make arguments that are worth rebutting in some way. I surely agree that a reply brief should not be filed if its only purpose is to repeat what is said in the appellant's initial brief. But if no answer can be made to the appellee's brief, then the appellant probably should deserves to lose the appeal.

Having said this, I still highly recommend Judge Aldisert's book.

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