3 Quick Tips For New 10th Circuit Attorneys - U.S. Tenth Circuit
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3 Quick Tips For New 10th Circuit Attorneys

For the new batch of appellate attorneys being sworn in this year, here are a few quick tips for practicing in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Moot court was enough to make some palms sweat, but appearing before the second-highest court level in the U.S. is a huge step up. When you get consumed by the bigger picture, like your argument or clients, it's easy to forget the little things.

These three tips on the little things might help you avoid that "doh!" moment.

1. Proper briefing procedure never goes out of style.

When it comes to putting together your primary brief, it's all about style. You don't want to get your brief kicked back for some silly error, like font size. The Tenth Circuit has graciously put together a checklist for properly compiling your primary brief.

Here are some highlights:

  • Always double space unless using quotes and footnotes.
  • Include a statement of prior or related appeals.
  • Attach separate certifications at the end of the brief, like certifying that privacy redactions have been made, hard copies submitted to the clerk are the same ones as the e-filed copies, and that your e-filed copy is free of computer viruses.

2. E-file (almost) all documents.

Like Colorado courts, the Tenth Circuit requires e-filing of nearly all documents, too. All appellate attorneys must file their documents using the court's CM/ECF electronic filing system. Only appendices and addenda are to be filed in paper form with the clerk. If the opposing counsel is not using the CM/ECF, then you must serve them through the traditional manner as stipulated in the Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 25(c)(1). Otherwise, you may affect service via the e-filing system.

3. Don't mess with the court's time.

Changes in schedules and to the Tenth Circuit's court rules can make you wish you could reschedule your court date. When it comes to appearing at your oral argument, the court won't grant you a postponement unless there's extraordinary circumstances. What counts as "extraordinary circumstances" is determined on a case-by-case basis, but not having time enough time to practice your oral argument because of a "Walking Dead" marathon is probably not extraordinary enough. Unless there's an emergency, requests for postponement must be made more than 10 days before the scheduled argument date.

These are just a few tips in 293 pages of Tenth Circuit court rules. If you need more clarification, contact the clerk's office at (303) 844-3157.

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