Improving the quality of appellate advocacy is an issue that is important to the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Rules Committee, as well as a number of North Carolina appellate judges. In a prior article, I pointed out several ongoing initiatives designed to improve the quality of appellate advocacy including the creation of a new appellate specialty, the publication of oral argument practice guides by the Appellate Rules Committee, and continual updates to the Appellate Style Manual by the same committee.
In June 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals added a new resource: the “North Carolina Court of Appeals Legal Standards Database.” Prepared and adopted by the Court of Appeals, this 65-page PDF document “is intended to provide illustrations of the wide variety of standards of review, legal tests, and general statements of law employed at the N.C. Court of Appeals.” The Legal Standards Database is well-organized and collects quotes from the leading North Carolina appellate decisions by topic. In the document, you can find information about the appellate process, civil and criminal pre-trial and trial issues, and substantive areas of law such as family law and zoning law.
While standards of review can and do change (and therefore, attorneys should always conduct their own independent research), the Legal Standards Database’s standards of review will often provide a great jumping off point for assessing the likelihood of success on an appeal.
Beth Brooks Scherer is an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP who focuses exclusively on appellate practice. Beth regularly assists attorneys throughout the State in preparing their appeals, complying with rules of appellate procedure, and correcting appellate rules violations. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice, is chair of the North Carolina Bar Association's Appellate Rules Committee, and is vice-chair of the North Carolina State Bar’s Appellate Practice Specialty Committee. Beth is also a frequent contributor to the North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog, www.ncapb.com, which provides news, information, tips, and resources for practicing law in North Carolina's state and federal appellate courts.
About the Author
Beth Brooks Scherer
Beth Brooks Scherer is a Board Certified Appellate Practice Specialist with Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP in Raleigh. She is the current chair of the North Carolina State Bar’s Appellate Practice Specialization Committee and prior chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Rules Committee. She blogs frequently on issues of appellate practice and procedure for the North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog, www.ncapb.com, a convenient source of news, information, tips, and resources for practicing law in North Carolina’s State and Federal Appellate Courts.