Appellate Briefs – Content Layout

The two previous posts explained why a brief’s appearance matters and discussed some typography basics such as ALL CAPS, bold, and italics. This post covers how a brief is organized and compares the South Carolina rule with the federal rule.

Rule 208(b), SCACR, governs how a brief is organized in the South Carolina appellate courts. The brief has five parts:

  1. Table of Contents and Cases (with page citations)
  2. Statement of the Issues on Appeal
  3. Statement of the Case
  4. Argument (with distinctive headings for each issue)
  5. Conclusion

Federal Appellate Rule 28 has similar requirements with a few explicit additions. The federal rule, for example, requires a jurisdictional statement explaining the basis of the district court’s and appellate court’s subject matter jurisdiction. While the South Carolina rule lacks a direct counterpart, state Rule 208 requires that the Statement of the Case describe the date of the order being appealed and the date of the service of the Notice of Appeal. The Court may thus ensure that the Notice of Appeal is timely.

The federal rule also requires a separate Statement of the Facts. The South Carolina rule, in its description of the Argument section, provides that a party may include a separate statement of facts relevant to the issues presented for review. Both the federal and state rules require that the facts stated be supported by references to the record.

Lastly, the federal rule requires a statement on the standard of review and a summary of the argument. The South Carolina rule does not require either. In his seminar, however, former Court of Appeals Judge Ralph King Anderson admonished writers to include the standard of review in their brief because it keeps the focus on what the Court may or may not do. A summary of the argument may likewise be helpful.

Over the next several posts, each of these components will be separately discussed in greater detail. In the meantime, have I missed anything? Has anyone faced a brief that lacked a required part? We would love to hear from you. You can reach me here.




Leave a Reply