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Indiana Appellate Briefs

“What is an appellate brief? I have been told they are a book of sorts.”

In no uncertain terms, we at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. view appellate briefs as the backbone of the appeal. This one document pulls together all of the facts and law relevant to the issues we present for our clients on review.

It is a unique opportunity, given ample time for writing and revision, to weave together the complex facts, procedural history, and law to tell the client’s story and highlight the alleged error of the trial court and inherent injustice worked by the final order on appeal.

There are three (3) potential appellate briefs filed with the Indiana Court of Appeals in most civil or criminal appeals.  The first is the Appellant’s Brief, which can be 30 pages or 14,000 words in length.

The second is the Appellee’s Brief, which may also be 30 pages in length or up to 14, 000 words. Typically, word count allows the brief to slightly exceed 30 pages.

The third, is an Appellant’s Reply Brief, which can contain 15 pages or 7,000 words, which ever is greater.

The Appellant and Appellee’s Briefs have the same appellate brief content requirements and must strictly follow the Indiana Rules of Appellate Practice and citation method of the Bluebook. And to be properly written, needs several revisions until the right harmonization of the facts and law are attained. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. appellate brief attorneys believe the best writing is re-writing.

The actual contents of the Brief are set forth and explained as follows:

Table of Contents: The table of contents sets out what is in the Appellate Brief and its page numbers.  It must include the headings and subheadings used in the briefing in order to allow it to precisely point to what is where in the brief.

Table of Authorities: The table of authorities sets forth all of the state and federal statutes, rules, regulations, and other materials relied upon throughout the brief.  These may range from a specific statute, such as a criminal act, to a dictionary definition.

Statement of the Issue(s): The statement of the issue is critical and begins to frame what is to come. A good statement of the issue applies the law to the facts of the case in such a way as to reveal the error that will be developed in the argument.

Statement of the Case: This is a simple section relaying the nature of the case, such as criminal appeal, interlocutory appeal or civil appeal. It is followed by a listing of what went on to reach the point in time the issue came to the court, along with a statement of how the trial court handled and decide the issue.

Statement of the Facts: The statement of the facts sets forth the facts relevant to the issue on review. If there are multiple issues, this may be lengthy.  However, if the issue is narrow and a question of law, this section may be quite short, particularly if the necessary facts are apparent and set out in the prior Statement of the Case.  Critically, these facts must be cited to from the record (the transcript or trial exhibits) and must be accurate and free of distortion.

Summary of the Argument: This portion of the appellate brief, which is not more than a page or two, like the sections already mentioned, sets out in a systematic way the facts and law and why the trial court made an error.  In essence, it is the Argument in a distilled version.

Argument: It is the argument that will account for the lion’s share of the appellate brief. The traditional way an argument is structured is reduced to a common acronym: IRAC. The legal issue. The rule of law applicable to it. Analysis of the facts and law. And a conclusion demonstrating the reversible error.

The appellate attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., use a slightly altered version of this model because it works better and is easier to read where there are multiple issues. We structure it as follows:

  • Appellate brief issue.
  • Standard of review.
  • Controlling statute or case.
  • Analysis.
  • Conclusion.

This is Ciyou & Dixon’s approach to briefing. Would this approach assist you in your case? If so, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may be a prudent consideration as your appellate counsel. We stand ready, willing, and able to consider accepting your appeal and guide you through the appellate process

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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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