The federal rules of appellate procedure were amended effective December 1, 2013. The old rules required two separate sections at the beginning of the brief: a separate statement of the case and a statement of facts. Now, a single section called the “statement of the case” is required. That section includes both the key facts, and the relevant procedural history. And it specifies the rulings presented for review.
Maybe not a momentous change. But one that gives practitioners some flexibility.
The change recognizes that, depending on the issues being raised, some appeals are based on procedural errors, and some are based more on facts. Some deal with both.
You may want to start with a section dealing with facts and follow that with a relevant procedural history. The facts may not be that relevant to your appeal, and you may want to go straight to the procedural history. The facts may be the guts of the appeal, with no emphasis needed on the procedural history.
You can organize your statement according to the rulings that are to be reviewed, with the relevant facts and procedural history presented separately for each. If you do that, the advisory committee comments encourage you to use subheadings to highlight each ruling.
It does bear some thought. The statement of the case is one of the first sections of the brief judges will read. You want to use it to orient and focus the judges, without distracting them with extraneous materials.
When you are ready to prepare your next federal appellate brief, check out the brief templates on Minnesota State Bar Association’s practicelaw site (link accessible to MSBA members only). (They are filed under the materials of the Appellate Practice Section.) The brief templates have been revised to reflect the most recent federal appellate rule changes.