What is an Appellate Brief?

During an appellate case, drafting and filing the requisite briefs is often the most daunting task. Many appellants — litigants who file an appeal — do not even realize that they may actually file two appellate briefs. The briefs typically filed during the course of an appeal are the Brief of Appellant, Brief of Respondent, and Reply Brief of Appellant.

Brief of Appellant

The first brief filed in an appellate case is the Brief of Appellant. In this brief, the appellant does three things: (1) lays out the factual and procedural history of the case, (2) explains what errors he believes the Circuit Court made, and (3) argues why and how the Court of Appeals should correct those errors.

In both civil and criminal cases, this brief is due within 40 days after the Clerk of the Court of Appeals files the Record on Appeal. Wis. Stat. 809.19.

Brief of Respondent

After the appellant submits his brief, the respondent — or party against whom the appeal has been filed — may answer that brief through a brief of his own. This brief is referred to as the Brief of Respondent, and is due within 30 days of the date that the Brief of Appellant was filed. Wis. Stat. 809.19(3). If the respondent received the Brief of Appellant by mail, he gets an extra 3 days in which to respond. Wis. Stat. 809.19(3).

The Brief of Respondent argues why the decision of the Circuit Court was correct. In drafting this brief, the respondent will typically choose several specific arguments from the Brief of Appellant to which he wishes to respond.

Reply Brief of Appellant

Finally, the appellant may draft a Reply Brief. In the Reply Brief, the appellant may only respond to arguments made within the Brief of Respondent. This is not the proper venue through which to raise new issues or introduce new facts. If the appellant feels that a reply brief would be unnecessary, he may simply file a statement that so indicates.

In civil and criminal cases alike, the Reply Brief, if any, must be filed 15 days from the date that the Brief of Respondent was filed. Wis. Stat. 809.19(4). The appellant is given three extra days if he was served by mail. Wis. Stat. 809.19(4).

For expert assistance drafting your appellate briefs, or to discuss your appeal generally, contact the Alderman law Firm today for your free consultation by calling 720-588-3529 (CO) or 608-620-3529 (WI).

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