The Appellate Brief Assignment

Research and Writing: Brief Assignment

100 points



Submit your Answers in an Attachment.


Research and draft a basic appellate brief for your client based on the facts provided in the Appellate Brief Scenario below. 


The purpose of an appellate brief is to persuade the court to rule for your client.  The goal of your brief for class purposes will be to make the most persuasive argument available for your client.   

Your goal for the assignment is to demonstrate your ability to identify and phrase the legal issues; to research, correctly cite, and fully apply related legal authority; and to present your written arguments clearly, concisely, and professionally.


Using your Westlaw subscription, research and correctly identify the legal issue or issues involved.  Locate, correctly cite, and thoroughly apply the following:

1.      At least one source of primary legal authority from your state.

2.      At least one court opinion that would be mandatory authority for the court to which you’re appealing; this may or may not be the same source meeting the requirement in  No. 1 above.

3.      At least one source of persuasive authority; this may be secondary or primary, but not mandatory.

Structure and Format: 

Court rules typically set forth the structure and formatting requirements for an appellate brief, and vary by jurisdiction.  For class purposes, 12 point font, 1” margins, and 1.5 or double spaced line spacing is required for all text other than direct quotes, which should be kept to a minimum.  Section headings should be centered and consistent throughout the document. 

Please refer to the “Simplified Brief Copy” in the Sample Documents folder under Handouts on the course main page, and contact your instructor if you have any questions on the content, structure, or purpose for each required section. 

Your appellate brief must contain the following sections:

1.      Cover Page  

2.      Table of Contents

3.      Index of Authorities  

*   Note that all case citations must conform to Bluebook guidelines.

4.      Statement of Jurisdiction

5.      Question(s) Presented

6.      Statement of the Facts

7.      Argument    

*   Note that this sample is overly-simplified and the arguments in your brief should be much more fully developed.

8.      Conclusion

9.      Relief


  Academic Honesty Agreement:     

Sharing written work is unapproved collaboration, and using another student’s work, or another author’s brief or memo to assist you in preparing your own is plagiarism; these practices are strictly forbidden in any academic environment.  By submitting your assignment for grading, you understand the obligation to avoid plagiarism and/or collaboration, and agree to the following:

·         To avoid plagiarism, you will cite all original sources and correctly acknowledge the source of any idea, reasoning, writing, proposition or analysis that is not strictly your own.   

·         You will not work with or discuss the legal issues, research, or analysis involved in preparing this assignment with any other student, whether currently enrolled, enrolled in the past, or enrolled in the future, in any way. 

·         You will not review or comment upon another student’s notes, research, or writing for this assignment at any time, now or in the future.

·         You will not allow others, including but not limited to, past and former students, students from other schools, paralegals, supervisors, attorneys, tutors, paid essay writers and other online services, to assist you in any way, including general review and comment upon your work.

·         You will not share or publish, electronically or otherwise, any notes, research, or writing for this assignment at any time without obtaining the express consent of your instructor.   

Any violation of this agreement constitutes a violation of the Plagiarism Policy and Course Use Agreements and will result in disciplinary action which may include expulsion from the program without reimbursement.



Appellate Brief Scenario:  

Your client, Ms. Kimberly Hall, stands convicted under your state law for charges involving theft, trafficking in stolen property, fraud, and alteration of vehicle identification numbers.  Hall runs a small salvage yard on a 3.5 acre piece of property surrounded by several fences, tall trees, dense scrub bushes, and  posted No Trespassing signs.  The property contains 2 structures:  a small one-room cabin, in which Hall resides, and a separate structure, approximately 30 feet high, with sliding barn doors on all four sides, no windows, and no roof.  

Early on the day of Hall’s arrest, state and local authorities conducted a drone-surveillance sweep after an anonymous tip line received several calls reporting the operation of multiple automotive chop shops in a rural location within your state of residence.  Captured video of the larger structure, obtained by the drone’s camera from approximately 100 feet in the air and simultaneously transmitted to police officers on the ground, revealed the presence of multiple dismantled vehicles, a pile of license plates, various automotive parts and tools, including grinders, cutting saws, hoists and welding rigs.  Hall was taken into police custody at approximately 5:00 a.m. that morning, and was subsequently charged based on that footage. 

At trial, several residents claimed that the presence of the drones in the early morning hours resulted in unnecessary panic, which quickly swept the small community, and resulted in multiple calls to local police dispatch, some minor property damage, and at least one assault.  Sally Jones, who lives adjacent to Ms. Hall, testified  that, “Conner Peterson and those damned drones caused enough drama and paranoia to end a 25-year friendship in a fistfight.”   Conner Peterson, a survivalist/prepper and avid short-wave radio enthusiast, stated for the record that, on the morning of Hall’s arrest, he was up late monitoring radio transmissions between members of a known local anti-government group who were discussing plans for “something big” involving the use of personal drones.  Mr. Peterson stated that he heard an unusual buzzing noise coming from the west side of his property as he stood outside with his dog at approximately 4:00 a.m.  When he spotted a drone hovering between his house and his garage, he immediately began calling to warn his neighbors that something was up, and to remain vigilant.      

The trial court considered all testimony, exhibits, and arguments and found your client guilty.