Note to practitioners before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Limit your use of acronyms.
It really ticks off Judge Laurence Silberman.
Above the Law showcased its “Quote of the Day,” with a mention of Judge Silberman’s annoyance at the overuse of abbreviations in the recent case of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. United States Department of Energy.
Here’s the quote, (brief thanks to Christopher Danzig of Above the Law):
“Here, both parties abandoned any attempt to write in plain English, instead abbreviating every conceivable agency and statute involved, familiar or not, and littering their briefs with references to ‘SNF,’ ‘HLW,’ ‘NWF,’ ‘NWPA,’ and ‘BRC’…”
Appellate briefs are an art form. They are a different breed and if you plan to go before a court of appeals, it’s time to take some tips on writing a proper appellate brief.
In an article for the American Bar Association, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals discusses effective appellate brief writing.
“Put yourself in the judge’s shoes,” he says.
The interesting thing he points out is that the appellate judges aren’t necessarily subject matter experts in the particular area of law that is in the case.
So acronyms that may be known to subject matter experts in that field of law might just end up confusing and annoying the appellate judge.
Specifically, Judge Posner points out that the parties should avoid the use of jargon. Again, jargon that may be familiar to parties that are submersed in a particular subject area may not be as familiar to the appellate judge.
It’s no wonder that Judge Silberman was peeved.
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- National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. United States Department of Energy (FindLaw Cases)