An Appellate Attorney Knows The Statement of Facts Section sets the Tone of the Appellate Brief

Posted on 20 November, 2014 at 16:15

Many an appellate attorney knows that in an appellate brief, many legal writers solely focus on the legal argument. This is a very important section of the brief. However, a skilled appellate attorney also crafts a powerful and compelling Statement of Facts section in the appellate brief. Without a compelling Statement of Facts section, an appellate judge may not take an active interest in your legal argument and consequently your appeal. This would be fatal to your case. A compelling Statement of Facts section will grab the reader’s attention which will then make the judge an active listener with regard to your appeal. This is a crucial step in the appellate process.


Essentially, an appeal is to rectify a wrong. That is the job of an appellate jurist. A wrong cannot be rectified unless you describe how your client has been wronged. This is accomplished by describing your client’s plight in compelling and humanistic terms. Additionally, you must show that your client’s actions were reasonable given the circumstances. For instance, your client moved out of her apartment and refused to pay the rent due to the landlord’s handling of the building’s heat or lack thereof. A poor appellate writer would state the following: “Plaintiff left the apartment after several phone calls to the building management notifying them that the heat was insufficient. After her phone calls went unanswered, the Plaintiff left the apartment and sought a new residence. The terrible conditions were the reason why the Plaintiff left the building in late November.” The aforementioned is a cold recitation ofthe facts. It does not humanize the client or describe her plight to the court.

A better approach would be as follows: “Sandra Jones had to leave her apartment in late November whereas she had no heat for well over 30 days. Ms. Jones made numerous calls to management explaining that the temperature in her apartment was an appalling 40 degrees. The defendant never returned her calls and callously allowed Sandra Jones to suffer in these awful conditions. Ms. Jones even attempted to boil water to keep the conditions bearable in her apartment. Unfortunately, this only led to Ms. Jones scolding herself. Sandra Jones had no other choice, but to leave the freezing apartment which was uninhabitable and inhumane under any reasonable standard.” 


In the second and better approach, the client is referred to by her name and not as the Plaintiff. You cannot have a story without a name. The “Plaintiff” is not the beginning of any great story and this cold legal term does not humanize your client. The second version also does not dryly recite facts, but vividly displays the awful conditions your client was suffering. You have created a story and a plight that explains your client’s actions. The second and better approach not only activates the reader, but also shows the reasonableness of your client’s actions. This sets the tone for a sympathetic judge who is now looking to reverse the lower court’s decision. The Statement of Facts section sets the tone for a reversal. Do not overlook this section.


Written by:   John V. Siskopoulos, Esq. 

Telephone:   (617) 959-1628 

Email:           [email protected] 


If you have a civil appeal or criminal appeal and would like to speak with an appellate attorney at Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP, contact us at either (646) 942-1798 or (617) 959-1628.

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Categories: Appellate Attorneys