Appeals: Start to Finish

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Course Description

This program was recorded on December 6th, 2018

This CLE will be an introductory/intermediate level course. It will cover the most important rules of appellate procedure, and then focus on the substantive aspects of appeals, including: error preservation at the trial level, the brief writing process, and the appellate oral argument. The heaviest focus will be on the brief writing process, which will comprise about half the time of the presentation.



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  • Aaron Proulx
    Aaron is a native of New England. He grew up in Massachusetts, and then attended high school and college in Vermont. Aaron received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Vermont, from which he graduated with magna cum laude honors in 1995. Aaron then moved to Florida in 1997, where he attended Stetson University College of Law.  While at Stetson, Aaron received the award for Most Outstanding Editor of the Stetson Law Review; received the James Carlisle Rogers, Jr. Award for best critical paper on a Supreme Court line of cases; published a case note in the Stetson Law Review; and received Dean’s List and Honor Roll honors. Aaron graduated from Stetson with cum laude honors.

    Contact Aaron Proulx
      • 2 General Credits
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    1. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
      1. The Courts
      2. Types of appeals
      3. Deadlines
      4. Brief requirements
      5. The record
    2. Error preservation
      1. The point of error preservation is to ensure that a trial court is reversed only because it made a mistake – not because something new has been uncovered after the final order. This general rule applies to 3 kinds of preservation:
        1. Contemporaneous objections are required for evidence. There are exceptions-
        2. fundamental error
        3. prior preservation
    3. arguments must be made in trial court in a notice or objection, a motion or brief, or at a hearing
    4. you cannot cite a fact to an appellate court if that fact is not part of the record from the trial court.
    5. The briefs
      1. This section will focus on a typical appeal from a final judgment.
    6. Communicating with the trial attorney about the issue at trial.
      1. Once you have some idea of the general issues that may be applicable to the appeal, you need to become familiar with the record.
      2. Acquire a general familiarity with the case law
      3. Prepare a preliminary outline
    7. Prepare a first draft of the issues
    8. Writing
      1. Write the issues – issue framing is the single most important aspect of brief writing
      2. Write you strongest argument first
      3. Write your secondary and tertiary arguments
      4. Write the summary of the argument only after your final version of your argument sections are complete
    9. Oral Argument
      1. Oral argument is primarily for the most unresolved issues remaining after briefing
      2. Know your judges
      3. Preparing the OA outline
      4. Practicing for oral argument
      5. Performance (most critical DOs and DON’Ts)

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