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How-To: Write an Initial Brief

Background: You have appealled a decision from a lower tribunal (DOAH/FCHR/Circuit Court)
Problem: You do not know how to draft an appellate brief
Solution: You follow this guide for writing an effective appellate brief (FL)

I. Definitions

"a written argument concentrating upon legal points and authorities (ie, precedents) used by the lawyer to convey to the court (trial or appellate) the essential facts of his or her client's case, a statement of the questions of law involved, the law that should be applied and the application that he or she desires made of that law by the court. The brief is submitted in connection with an application, motion, trial or appeal.""

II. Legal Citations

Rule 9.100 Fla. R. App. P. | Original Proceedings
(e) Petitions for Writs of Mandamus and Prohibition Directed to a Judge or Lower Tribunal. When a petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition seeks a writ directed to a judge or lower tribunal, the following procedures apply:
(1) Caption....

(2) Parties....

(3) Response....
Rule 9.210 Fla. R. App. P. | Briefs
(b) Contents of Initial Brief. The initial brief shall contain the following, in order:
(1) a table of contents listing the sections of the brief, including headings and subheadings that identify the issues presented for review, with references to the pages on which each appears;

(2) a table of citations with cases listed alphabetically, statutes and other authorities, and the pages of the brief on which each citation appears;

(3) a statement of the case and of the facts, which shall include the nature of the case, the course of the proceedings, and the disposition in the lower tribunal, with references to the appropriate pages of the record or transcript;

(4) a summary of argument, suitably paragraphed, condensing succinctly, accurately, and clearly the argument actually made in the body of the brief, which should not be a mere repetition of the headings under which the argument is arranged, and should seldom exceed 2 and never 5 pages;

(5) argument with regard to each issue, with citation to appropriate authorities, and including the applicable appellate standard of review;

(6) a conclusion, of not more than 1 page, setting forth the precise relief sought;

(7) a certificate of service; and

(8) a certificate of compliance for computer-generated briefs.
§120.68 FS | Judicial Appeal
(1) District courts of appeal shall have jurisdiction to hear appeals, that may be taken as a matter of right, from final judgments or orders of trial courts, including those entered on review of administrative action, not directly appealable to the supreme court or a circuit court. They may review interlocutory orders in such cases to the extent provided by rules adopted by the supreme court.

(2) District courts of appeal shall have the power of direct review of administrative action, as prescribed by general law.

(3) A district court of appeal or any judge thereof may issue writs of habeas corpus returnable before the court or any judge thereof or before any circuit judge within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. A district court of appeal may issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and other writs necessary to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction. To the extent necessary to dispose of all issues in a cause properly before it, a district court of appeal may exercise any of the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit courts.
Art. V §4 FL Constitution | District Courts of Appeal

III. Samples

# Link Comments
1logoAdobe± TBD case. Pro Se Filing | 1DCA | §760 Case; Employment Discrimination (Race, Sex); Unpled Defense; Due ProcessiconPriceTag
2logoAdobe± TBD case. Pro Se Filing | 1DCA | §120.565 Case; Declaratory Statement iconPriceTag
3logoAdobeFCHR Case | 1998 | Pro Se Filing | X Affirmed | 8 Issues (Due Process, ALJ Improprieties, Competent Evidence, Untimely)iconPriceTag
4logoAdobeFCHR Case | 1999 | Pro Se Filing | X Affirmed | 14 Issues | Price Waterhouse vs McDonnel-DouglasiconPriceTag
5logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2001 | Pro Se Filing | X Affirmed | 2 Issues (Dismissal, Reversible Error, Due Process)iconPriceTag
6logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2004 | Pro Se Filing | - DismissediconPriceTag
7logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2005 | Attorney Filing | X Affirmed | 3 Issues (Disability, Reasonable Accommodation, Competent Evidence)iconPriceTag
8logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2005 | Pro Se Filing | X AffirmediconPriceTag
9logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2009 | Pro Se Filing (Daughter) | X Affirmed | 3 Issues (Exhibit Omission, Late PO)iconPriceTag
10logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2014 | Attorney Filing | X Affirmed | 2 Issues (Misapplied Law, Competent Evidence)iconPriceTag
11logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2015 | Pro Se Filing | X AffirmediconPriceTag
12logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2016 | Pro Se Filing | X Affirmed (Evidence Destruction, Due Process)iconPriceTag
13logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2017 | Pro Se | X Affirmed | 1 Issue (Right to a Hearing)iconPriceTag
14logoAdobeFCHR Case | 2019 | Pro Se | X Affirmed | HandwritteniconPriceTag

IV. Templates

# Link Comments
1iconMSWord1DCA Version | Replace all placeholder tags (eg "[plfName]" becomes "John Doe").iconPriceTag

V. Quick Commentary

  • Best Early: Put your best/strongest arguments towards the beginning of your brief.
  • Proper Structure: Compose your initial brief the way the Court prescribes (Rule 9.210 Fla. R. App. P.)
    1. Cover Sheet
    2. Table of Contents
    3. Table of Citations
    4. Statement of the Case
    5. Statement of the Facts
    6. Summary of Argument
    7. Arguments
    8. Conclusion
    9. Certificate of Service
    10. Certificate of Compliance
  • Download as many sample documents as you'd like
    • Contact TBD for more free samples
  • Feel free to use the templates (see Part IV - above) to help draft your 'Initial Brief'
  • Save the final version as a PDF file.
  • File the final version in court

VI. Conclusion

Use the templates and samples to write an effective Initial Brief at a Florida District Court of Appeals.


Congratulations! You're now booked up on how to write an Initial Brief at a Florida District Court of Appeals!

Please get the justice you deserve.


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