Trial Lawyers and Appellate Writing

One good reason for a trial lawyer to refer an appeal out to an appellate guy is the writing. Trial lawyers are speaking lawyers; they speak to clients, they speak to opposing counsel, they speak to mediators, they speak to witnesses, etc. Very often they have to juggle numerous bits and pieces of information on different cases all at one time. In contradiction, the appellate lawyer's job is all about persuasive writing one document that is both cogent and persuasive. The appellate lawyer's office is usually deathly quiet compared to the cacophony down the hall. Below is a sentence from an appellate brief where it doesn't appear that the lawyer had the time to distill his thoughts:

Because the County's proposed interpretation of section 311.034 is inconsistent with the rules of statutory construction, it is not important to the jurisprudence of Texas for this Court to overrule longstanding rules of statutory construction in order to effectuate the novel conclusion urged by the County that statutes of limitation are jurisdictional.

Though we understand that the lawyer's opponent is the County, the lawyer's point is opaque, at best. Here's a quick re-write:

The County's argument that the statute of limitations clause in section 311.034 confers jurisdiction is novel; it doesn't comport with the ordinary rules of statutory construction. Thus the Court shouldn't consider this case important to the state's jurisprudence and the County's petition should be denied.

Thoughts for the written page must be distilled and that is one reason why trial lawyers should consider passing their appeals off to their appellate brethren.