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How-To: Write an Opening/Principle Brief

Background: You have appealled a decision from a US District Court
Problem: You do not know how to draft a federal appellate brief
Solution: You follow this guide for writing an effective federal appellate brief

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 28 Fed. R. App. P. | Briefs
(a) Appellant’s Brief. The appellant’s brief must contain, under appropriate headings and in the order indicated:
(1) a corporate disclosure statement if required by Rule 26.1;
(10) the certificate of compliance, if required by Rule 32(g)(1).

(d) References to Parties. In briefs and at oral argument, counsel should minimize use of the terms “appellant” and “appellee.” To make briefs clear, counsel should use the parties’ actual names or the designations used in the lower court or agency proceeding, or such descriptive terms as “the employee,” “the injured person,” “the taxpayer,” “the ship,” “the stevedore.”

28 USC §1291 | Final Decisions of District Courts
The courts of appeals (other than the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) shall have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States...

28 USC §1292 | Interlocutory Decisions
(a) Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from:
(1) Interlocutory orders of the district courts of the United States...

(b) When a district judge, in making in a civil action an order not otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the opinion that such order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation, he shall so state in writing in such order. The Court of Appeals which would have jurisdiction of an appeal of such action may thereupon, in its discretion, permit an appeal to be taken from such order, if application is made to it within ten days after the entry of the order: Provided, however, That application for an appeal hereunder shall not stay proceedings in the district court unless the district judge or the Court of Appeals or a judge thereof shall so order.

III. Samples

# PDF Comments
1✓ Reverse & Remanded | 21-11901 | TBD case. Pro Se Filing | USFLND | §1983 Case; Perjury from a Judge...
2X Affirmed | 04-02291 | Carnero v Boston; Accounting Fraud; Whistleblower; Addendum Attached;
3X Denied | 20-10843 | Woods v Alabama; Prisoner Execution; Lethal Injection; Due Process, Equal Protection,
4X Affirmed | 10-11052 | Locke v Shore; Interior Design; Constitutional Challenge; §1983; Due Process; Equal Protection
5✓ Reversed & Remanded | 18-14934 | Taylor v Polhill; Hearing Aids; State Laws preempted by Federal Laws;
6± Possibly Settled | 17-13023 | Coleman v Bobby Dodd; Pregnancy Discrimination; Menopause; ACLU Case
7✓ Remanded | 18-10053 | NAACP v Lagrange; Fair Housing Act; Court Debt Policy;
8✓ Reversed & Remanded | 16-10921 | Penaloza v Drummond; Wrongful Death; Colombian Law;
9✓ Remanded | 15-15234 | Evans v Georgia Regional Hospital; LGBTQ Case;
10✓ Reversed | 17-11589 | Code v Public Resource; Copyright Stuff; Amicus;
11✓ Reversed & Remanded | 17-12338 | Stout v Gardendale; School Desegregation
12X Affirmed | 19-14267 | Bryant v USA; Amicus Brief; Sentencing Reduction;

IV. Templates

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

V. Quick Commentary

  • Best Early: Put your best/strongest arguments towards the beginning of your brief.
  • Proper Structure: Compose your opening brief the way the Court prescribes (Rule 28 Fed. R. App. P.)
    1. Cover Page (see Rule 32-2 11th Cir. R.)
    2. Certificate of Interested Persons (and Corporate Disclosure Statement)
    3. Statement Regarding Oral Argument
    4. Table of Contents
    5. Table of Authorities
    6. Introduction
    7. Jurisdictional Statement
    8. Statement of the Issues on Appeal
    9. Statement of the Case
    10. Standard of Review
    11. Summary of Argument
    12. Arguments
    13. Conclusion
    14. Certificate of Compliance
    15. Certificate of Service
  • 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 'Opening Brief'
  • Save the final version as a PDF file.
  • File the final version in court
  • Print out seven copies (see Rule 31-3 11th Cir. R.)
  • Mail each copy Elbert P. Tuttle Courthouse
    11th Circuit Court of Appeals
    56 Forsyth Street, NW
    Atlanta, GA 30303

VI. Conclusion

Use the templates and samples to write an effective Opening Brief at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (US).

Congratulations! You're now booked up on how to write an Opening Brief at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals!

Please get the justice you deserve.


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