Brief Writing 101 Lacking at Court of Appeals

11 01 2012

The Court of Appeals issued 11 rebriefing orders from No-Merit (Anders) briefs.  The Court affirmed a few convictions on no-merit briefs, but the vast majority were sent back for more work to be done.  It appears that there are a lot of attorneys that think the easy way out is to file a no-merit brief with the court and withdraw as counsel.  The problem is that there are a ton of possible arguments that can be made and must be abstracted in order to file a no-merit brief.

The easier thing to do is pick the most promising issue, even if it’s ultimately a loser, and argue forcefully for it.  It is less work, makes the client happier, and prevents the excessive amount of rebriefing that the Court of Appeals seems to order in no-merit briefs.

The bad news today is the Court of Appeals denied the petition for rehearing in Villagran v. State.  This is without a doubt the most absurd ruling by the Court of Appeals in recent memory.  The Court’s ruling directly conflicted with case law and common sense on each of the issues.  The case should have been decided on whether the errors were harmless, but  never made it that far.  The petition for review is still out there; however, I do not harbor any fantasy that will be granted.  Just as good attorneys make bad decisions, good judges do the same.  Hopefully, Judge Vaught’s one error for the year is out of the way.


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