Appellate Practice Section | State Bar of Wisconsin

The Appellate Practice Section encourages communication and exchange of ideas between attorneys practicing in state and federal appellate courts. Members also sponsor the Appellate Practice Workshop, where participants can hone their skills by arguing an appellate case before appellate judges and experienced practitioners.

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On July 15, 2020, the Appellate Practice Section announced its winners of its third Best Briefs competition. The biennial competition looks for excellence in brief writing amongst the Wisconsin bar. Because appellate practice centers around brief writing, the competition’s goal is to recognizes personal achievement that also aids appellate attorneys striving to improve their writing and argumentation skills. To be chosen is no easy task. First, it takes nomination. Anyone can nominate a brief – the authors, colleagues, friends, judges, clerks, or other admirers of great legal writing – with it an honor to simply be nominated. com jacques…
In January 2020, Max Stephenson and Erin Strohbehn wrote a blog entry related to cases that were pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases involve the scope of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the incredibly important question of whether Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Max T. Stephenson, Marquette 2013, is an attorney with Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, in Milwaukee, where his practice includes representing clients in divorce, paternity actions, post-judgment actions, guardianships, and injunctions. Erin Strohbehn, Marquette 2006,…
In October 2019, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in three cases expected to have a major impact upon the more than 11 million members of the LGBTQ community. At issue is the scope of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the incredibly important question of whether Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Background Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it has been illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of that person’s sex. But, since the passage of the…
Note: This is the first of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Year after year, the first Saturday in May marks arguably the greatest event in horse racing: the Kentucky Derby. This year’s derby was no exception, albeit perhaps for different reasons. Held on May 4, 2019, a field of 19 3-year-old thoroughbred horses took to the turf in sloppy, rain-soaked conditions. On the line was a seven-figure purse to the winner. A horse named Maximum Security, the odds-on favorite at post time, proved the line correct, leading wire-to-wire and crossing the finish line first by 1 ¾…
Note: This is the second of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Start at part one. In legal parlance, many Latin terms have become so commonplace they are neither hyphenated nor highlighted: the terms are part of everyday nomenclature. One example is “sua sponte,” the name by which this blog is known. Another, at issue in this blog, is the term “de novo.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines “de novo” as meaning “anew; afresh; a second time,” with its most common use as a standard of review for purposes of an appeal – and that’s where we’ll go…
Note: This is the third of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Start at part one. In part 2 of this series, I briefly discussed de novo review, a reviewing standard commonly understood as the least deferential standard of appellate review. I am now going to discuss what deference means as it moves across the legal spectrum from least to most deferential – at which point terminology poses an immediate obstacle, as does context. For instance, depending upon the jurisdiction, different words are used to describe more deferential review. Let’s begin here. This or That In…
Note: This is the fourth of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Start at part one. In prior blog posts, I discussed standards of review and policy considerations involved in appellate issues and cases. Because not every appeal is the same, I’m now going to dissect (delicately) a few thorny considerations. The first involves mixed questions of law and fact. Water and Oil As identified in prior posts, the general understanding is that questions of law are reviewed de novo, with questions of fact reviewed with deference to the fact-finder. While there are multiple standards and terminologies…
Note: This is the fifth of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Start at part one. In the final two installments of this series on appellate standards of review, I harken back to the first post. There, I discussed the 2019 Kentucky Derby result where racing stewards, reviewing post-race objections, upheld at least one of the objections and found that a foul occurred. For the first time in the 145 years of the running of the Kentucky Derby, they disqualified the unofficial winner for an in-race infraction. The disqualified horse went by the name Maximum Security.…
Note: This is the last of six articles on the appellate standards of review. Start at part one. In the final entry on this series covering standards of review, we now move from the internal appeal process to the next step: review through the courts. In doing so, I discuss the appeal process involving the Kentucky Derby, as well as the considerations that apply to review. In terms of review, I’ve previously discussed commonly understood reviewing standards, ranging from de novo review to deferential review. Other categories and policies exist, nuanced by the type of appeal, with the review…
Day 1: ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ Hello, readers of the new Sua Sponte blog. I am blogging from Washington, D.C. My husband (who is also my best friend and former colleague at the State Public Defender’s appellate division) – is arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t think I could be more excited if it were my own case! This morning I jogged around the Supreme Court’s courthouse; and in a couple of days, I will be in that courthouse, watching some of the most brilliant legal minds in the country question my spouse about the Fourth…