De Novo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog

De Novo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog

Jay O’Keeffe practices with Johnson, Rosen & O’Keeffe LLC. in Roanoke, Virginia, where he splits his time between appellate and business litigation. read more

Category Archives: Briefs

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Legal Writing: Be Brief or Be Thorough?

Posted in Briefs, Writing
I don’t usually get surprised at legal-writing CLEs. But I got surprised this morning. For context, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel  at the VADA’s annual meeting this morning. Justice McCullough, Judge Carson, and Erin Ashwell sat on the panel, which addressed practical legal-writing tips. If you know these folks, then you know… Continue Reading

Findlay is Not the Answer

Posted in Appellate Practice, Briefs
We spent last post complaining about the difficulty of landing an assignment of error in the Goldilocks Zone. When I bring this up in real life, the response is usually that the Court solved this problem with Findlay v. Commonwealth, 287 Va. 111, 752 S.E.2d 868 (2014) . I disagree, for at least three reasons. But first,… Continue Reading

Letters from Camp

Posted in Briefs, Uncategorized, Writing
So we decided to send Jack to sleepover camp this year. You remember Jack, right? Well, he’ a little older now. This is the first year that he’s eligible for camp, and he’s really been looking forward to it. We’ve been sending him letters every day, and we include the sports section from the local… Continue Reading

Writing with Style(s)

Posted in Briefs
True story: Last year, I had to spend one of the warm-weather Monday holidays working on a brief that was due the following Tuesday. (I can’t remember if it was Memorial or Labor Day, but that doesn’t matter to the story.) I spent the weekend revising and polishing the brief. Then I remembered about the… Continue Reading

Seven Appellate Tips from a Seventh Circuit Judge

Posted in Appellate Practice, Briefs, Oral Argument
I was flipping through the latest volume of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing when I came across  an interview that Bryan Garner did with (then-Chief) Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit back in 2007. Bryan A. Garner, Interview with Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, 13 Scribes J. Legal Writing 1 (2013). Inveterate Garnerphile that I… Continue Reading

So Now Briefs Can Be Too Short?

Posted in Briefs
A heretofore unquestioned rule of appellate advocacy: Less is better. The rule takes many forms–anything that doesn’t help, hurts; we call them “briefs” for a reason; sit down and shut up–but the basic idea is that we have panels of very busy, very smart judges handling appeals. Let’s be respectful of their time and get to… Continue Reading