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Resources for Appellate Practice

Barbara H. Goldman

There are many library resources available to assist the appellate practitioner in Michigan. The following review is not exhaustive.

Appeals in State Court

    The most comprehensive work on Michigan appeals remains the Michigan Appellate Handbook, by Gromek, Lydick and Bosh (2d ed) (ICLE). A new edition is in the works, but the second edition, supplemented through 1997, is current. The value of this book lies in its breadth of coverage. It includes information on appealing to the circuit court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court from both judicial and administrative (agency) decisions. It goes beyond advice on brief writing and argument to provide guidance on mechanics like motion practice, transcript production, stay bonds, and costs. Numerous model forms are also included.

    If your appeal involves issues of appellate procedure, you will want to check out at least one of the sources on Michigan court rules. Almost anything you want to know can be found in Michigan Pleading and Practice (2d ed) (West Group), which offers a detailed index and a substantial volume on appellate issues; see Sections 52-58. Also valuable is Michigan Court Rules Annotated (ICLE); check the annotations to rule 7.101 et seq. And, of course, the raw material can be found under "Appeal and Error" in West's Michigan Digest. Analogous material is also available via Westlaw and Lexis.

    The State Bar of Michigan offers ready access to Michigan and some federal opinions; its scope is expanding rapidly. The Library of Michigan has material on Michigan law in general, while the State Appellate Defender's Office is a prime reference source for criminal law. Some other Michigan pages include ICLE, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, the University of Michigan Law School, and the Wayne State University Law School library. New sites spring up regularly; if you are unfamiliar with the territory, a law librarian will be happy to help you find your way around.

    Finally, you may want to check out the collection of briefs filed with the Michigan Supreme Court, which is stored in several locations around the state.

Appeals in Federal Court

    There are multiple publications on practice in the federal circuit courts of appeal. One very useful book is Federal Appeals: Jurisdiction and Practice (2d ed) by Michael E. Tigar (Shepard's/McGraw Hill, 1993). It goes beyond the intricacies of brief preparation to explore such critical areas as the treacherous "final order" rule, the mysterious All Writs Act, and the ever-popular "suggestion for rehearing en banc." Don't forget, however, that the Sixth Circuit follows its own policies, which are not always identical to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure; be sure to consult your current Michigan Rules of Court—Federal (West) or an equivalent as a first step.

    Numerous other texts are available. Among them are several by current or former appellate court judges. Briefing and Oral Argument by Edward D. Re (4th ed, Oceana Publications, 1974) is somewhat dated in tone but is full of examples of what, and what not to do, in preparing a brief and argument. Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs & Oral Argument by Ruggero J. Aldisert (West Group, 1992) provides a step-by-step formula for producing a brief that complies with the rules. Finally, On Appeal: Courts, Lawyering, and Judging by Frank M. Coffin, written for the student and lay reader, offers insights into the process of judicial decision-making. Also interesting is Appellate Courts and Lawyers: Information Gathering in the Adversary System, described as a "nuts-and-bolts" approach, based on interviews with judges and others in the appellate system; the emphasis is on background rather than details.

    Case law on appellate issues has been compiled in a variety of locations. The leading source remains Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice & Procedure, vols. 15-17. More compact but also thorough is Moore's Manual: Federal Practice and Procedure (Matthew Bender), which covers quite a bit of ground in Chapters 28 and 29; for more detail, see volume 9 of Moore's Federal Practice (2d ed) (Matthew Bender, 1994). Callaghan's Cyclopedia of Federal Procedure (3d ed) (volume 9) includes sections on appeals involving such obscure actions ne exeat and quo warranto; West's Federal Practice Manual has a chapter (§ 4240 et seq.) on appeals to the Court of Appeals for the federal circuit (customs, patents, Court of Claims), as well as one on general appeals (§ 9701 et seq.)

    Law-related sources on the Internet are too numerous to review here. Your librarian will be glad to show you how to explore them in detail.

Barbara H. Goldman is an attorney with the Advance Research department of the Michigan Court of Appeals, where she also served as law clerk to Chief Judge Maura D. Corrigan. This article was prepared while she was an associate with the firm of Collins, Einhorn, & Farrell PC.



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