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March 16, 2005

Jurisdictional statements in appellate briefs: An editorial

In Louisiana's appellate courts, the appellant's brief must "set forth the jurisdiction of the court." Rule 2-12.4, Unif. R. La. Cts. App. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that the courts of appeal put that requirement in Rule 2-12.4 for a reason: to help the court determine whether it in fact has appellate jurisdiction. If that is the purpose of the jurisdictional statement, then most jurisdictional statements that Louisiana lawyers actually write are useless.

If you're a Louisiana lawyer who, on occasion, writes an appellate brief, and if you'd like to distinguish yourself from the herd -- if you want the court of appeal to appreciate your brief -- then read below the fold.

Here is a typical jurisdictional statement:

This Court has jurisdiction of this appeal pursuant to the Louisiana Constitution, Article V, Section 10 and La. Rev. Stat. 13:312.
Jurisdictional statements like this are useless for helping the court figure out whether it actually has jurisdiction. They are useless because they fail to tell the court anything that the court doesn't already know.

A good jurisdictional statement should tell the court things that it does not already know: the facts and record citations to answer two questions:

1. Is the judgment in question subject to an appeal?
2. Did the appellant obtain a timely order of appeal?
Here are some examples of informative answers to question # 1:
The judgment in question is a final judgment under La. C.C.P. Art. 1915(A), because it dismisses the suit as to one defendant. R.__. Therefore, it is an appealable judgment under La. C.C.P. Art. 1911.

The judgment in question is an appealable judgment, because the trial court designated it as a final judgment, after expressly finding no just reason to delay an immediate appeal. R.___. Therefore, the judgment is appealable under La. C.C.P. Art. 1915(B).

This is an appeal from a judgment granting a preliminary injunction. R. ___. Such a judgment is immediately appealable under La. C.C.P. 3612(B).

To answer question # 2 -- whether the appeal is timely -- requires that you give the court the pertinent dates, with record citations. For example:

The clerk of court mailed notice of judgment on February 1, 2005. R. ___. On February 20, 2005, the trial court granted an order of suspensive appeal, R. ___, and on February 28, 2005, the appellant furnished security for the appeal in the amount fixed by the trial court. R. ___. Thus, the appellant timely perfected its suspensive appeal. La. C.C.P. Art. 2123(A).
Write an informative, useful jurisdictional statement, and you will establish yourself in the court's eyes as a better than average lawyer.

Posted by RPW at March 16, 2005 07:25 PM
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