Written by: Mark Wortham, Esq. Amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs are important and necessary for state and federal appellate courts. The rise in these filings suggests that the courts receive them well, and the empirical evidence underscores that conclusion. During the 2014-2015 Supreme Court term, amicus briefs were filed in 98 percent of merits stage cases.  A total of 781 amicus briefs – or almost 12 per case – were filed in controversies set for oral argument last year. 1)Cocklelegalbrief.com, Matthew Planap (January 2016).That is more than double the briefs-per-case filed in the 1990s, and 12 times those filed in the 1940s-1950s.2)Anthony J. Franze and R. Reeves Anderson, Record Breaking Term for Amicus Curiae in Supreme Court Reflects New Norm, The National Law Journal (August 2015). In fact, law clerks and justices at the Supreme Court of the United States have stated that in cases that are technical…       Read More

The filing of a notice of appeal has been termed “an event of jurisdictional significance—it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.” Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982). Where there are multiple parties to a litigation, each party aggrieved by the judgment is free to file a separate notice of appeal. But, if only one party files a notice of appeal, who are the parties on appeal? In Georgia, the short answer is all parties—the appellant, appellee and any other parties to the litigation below. But what is the status of “co-appellants” who are also aggrieved by the order of judgment, but unlike the named appellant, did not file a notice of appeal? Does the failure to file a timely notice of appeal bar the “co-appellants” the…       Read More

Clients often ask: “When will the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court of Georgia issue an opinion in my case?” In order to answer that question, we must look to the Georgia Constitution. It states: “The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals shall dispose of every case at the term for which it is entered on the court’s docket for hearing or at the next term.”[1] This provision is informally referred to as the “two-term rule.”[2] The “term” is “the period or session during which a court conducts judicial business.”[3] The terms are fixed by law[4] as follows: January term beginning the first Monday in January; April term beginning the third Monday in April; and September term beginning the first Monday in September. Note, this rule applies only to cases that fall within the Court’s general and exclusive appellate jurisdiction as mandated by the state constitution.[5] The resolution of…       Read More

Arguably, the most important part of an appellate brief is the standard of review. The standard of review balances the power between trial courts and appellate courts.[i] It dictates the amount of deference the appellate court must give to a trial court’s decision.[ii] When an appellate court applies a deferential standard of review, then more times than not it is going to “defer” to the trial court and affirm its decision. In contrast, when a less deferential standard of review applies, the appellate court is more likely to scrutinize the trial court and reverse its decision. Broadly speaking, Georgia appellate courts typically apply one of three different standards of review: any evidence, abuse of discretion, and de novo.[iii] The most deferential of these is the any evidence standard of review and the least deferential is the de novo standard of review. The abuse of discretion standard falls somewhere in between…       Read More