NYSBA Trial Lawyers Section Summer Meeting Review
On August 6-8, 2017, I had the honor of attending the New York State Bar Association’s Trial Lawyer’s Summer Meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Approximately 30 attorneys, many with their families, took the time to gather, share their expertise, and enjoy each other’s company. AppealTech is proud to have co-sponsored the event, including the General Sessions on August 8.
The meeting included both time to mingle and network, along with several highly informative CLE programs. On Tuesday, Professor Patrick M. Connors of Albany Law School presented sessions on Ethics and recent CPLR updates. His discussions touched on many areas of interest to trial attorneys, including those who have upcoming appeals. For instance, Professor Connors spent considerable time comparing and contrasting the New York Court of Appeals’ recent decision regarding the Judiciary Law section 470 requirement that in-state attorneys maintain an office in Schoenefeld v. State, 25 N.Y.3d 22, 6 N.Y.S.3d 221, 29 N.E.3d 230 (2015) with 22 N.Y.C.R.R. section 523 rules regarding temporary practice in New York by out-of-state attorneys. Later, Ms. Noreen Dewire Grimmick of Hodgson Russ LLP led an animated discussion regarding developments in New York law surrounding workplaces.
On Wednesday, Mr. Robert B. Gibson of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP presented an interesting program regarding the use of social media and other online resources in the jury selection process, including the ethical considerations of such. Then, Mr. Seth M. Weinberg of Mauro Lilling Naparty LLP and I jointly presented “The Art & Science of An Appeal.” I focused on the “science,” or procedural requirements of an appeal, while Mr. Weinberg emphasized the art of appellate practice, particularly highlighting various appellate motions. The last, but certainly not least, general session was presented by the Honorable Victoria A. Graffeo, Former New York State Court of Appeals Justice, now with Harris Beach LLC. Judge Graffeo briefly discussed the proposed uniform rules of the New York Appellate Divisions, but primarily focused on how to win an appeal.
Judge Graffeo recommended simple, clear writing as the basis for a winning brief. This is particularly important in jurisdictions such as the First and Second Departments of the Appellate Division, where arguments are extremely short. She stressed the importance of clearly stating the relief sought, even if there are alternatives for the court to consider. She also recommended parties avoid “law school legalese,” focus on the public policy behind their sought relief, and that practitioners finish their brief early enough to let it “age” before editing and filing it. Accuracy in one’s record citations and case citations is also important, according to Judge Graffeo. She also recommended that drafting attorneys avoid the use of string citations, as they can cause judges to lose concentration or their train of thought. In Judge Graffeo’s opinion, the most important parts of the brief are the preliminary statement, the questions presented, and the table of contents, because judges can quickly use these sections to understand what the case is about, without having gotten to the body of the brief. Especially where helpful to your case, Judge Graffeo believes that it is important to include the standard of review.
Oral argument is very personal, according to Judge Graffeo. However, two to four weeks prior to oral argument, it is extremely important to check for recent decisions in similar cases that might impact your case. If you find any, you must let the court know that you will use such cases in your oral argument.
Overall, the multi-day program was a valuable time to meet trial attorneys and gave me a wonderful opportunity to hear what is important to them in the appellate field. I appreciate the opportunity to have taken part in the events on behalf of AppealTech. I look forward to continuing our relationship with the New York State Bar Association Trial Lawyers Section.
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