Today the Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit’s non-precedential 2016 ruling in Hall v. Hall. The vote was 9-0, and the opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts. The Supreme Court opinion is here, the Third Circuit opinion is here, and the Scotusblog case page with the briefs and more is here. The Court held that, ” when one of several consolidated cases is finally decided, a disappointed litigant is free to seek review of that decision in the court of appeals.”
The case is of interest to this blog not merely because it arose from the Third Circuit, but also because the winning side was represented by Andrew Simpson, who is the President-elect of the Third Circuit Bar Association. Andy is a terrific lawyer in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. (Regular readers of this blog also will remember he shared his first-hand account of the hurricane devastation last fall.) My hearty congratulations to Andy on a magnificent win.
This Wednesday, January 10, Third Circuit Judges Kent Jordan and Jane Roth will be among the presenters at a CLE program on effective Third Circuit advocacy.
And, to ring in 2018, the organizers are waiving the registration fee.
The program will be held at the federal courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware, on the third floor in the jury selection room. You will need a government-issued ID to enter the courthouse. The program will be from 3 to 5 pm with refreshments after. DE and PA CLE credit approval is pending. More details are in this earlier post. To register, email me at Matthew@StieglerLaw.com.
Please share this post, and I hope to see you on Wednesday.
No one is born knowing how to tell compelling stories in their statements of the case. No one’s first oral argument is an elegant symphony of understated persuasion. Even the best Third Circuit advocates, lawyers like Peter Goldberger and Nancy Winkelman and Donna Doblick, work very hard to continue learning and improving. Appellate advocacy isn’t a talent, it’s a skill.
Here’s a chance to improve your appellate skills. Next month, there will be a two-hour CLE program in Delaware, entitled Effective Third Circuit Advocacy. The presenters:
- The Honorable Kent A. Jordan, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- The Honorable Jane R. Roth, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- The Honorable Christopher J. Burke, Magistrate Judge, District of Delaware
- Tieffa Harper, Assistant Federal Public Defender, District of Delaware
- Ilana Eisenstein, DLA Piper partner and former Assistant to the Solicitor General
The program will take place on Wednesday, January 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. with refreshments afterwards. It will be held at the Federal Courthouse in Wilmington at 844 N. King Street.
The event is co-sponsored by the Third Circuit Bar Association (3CBA) and the Delaware Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. The fee to attend is $20 for current members of either sponsor or $40 for non-members. (You can join or renew at the event, or online here or here.)
To register in advance, email me at Matthew@StieglerLaw.com. (I’m a 3CBA board member and one of the event’s organizers, along with Nilam Sanghvi and Kelly Farnan.) In your email, include your name, business address, and state(s) of admission.
(If you’re interested but unable to attend this one, panic not! 3CBA plans to put on a series of these programs in 2018 and beyond, featuring different Third Circuit judges, in locations around the circuit.)
This should be a terrific event. I’m going, and I hope you can, too.
There are two openings on the Board of Governors for the Bar Association of the Third Federal Circuit. If you’re interested in joining the board, express your interest now.
I’m a 3CBA board member, and I enthusiastically encourage anyone passionate about Third Circuit practice to consider it. It’s a privilege and a real pleasure getting to work with the remarkable folks on the 3CBA board. 3CBA does lots of good work — putting out a circuit practice guide and a newsletter, putting on circuit-conference programming, organizing CLEs with Third Circuit judges and appellate experts, and more — and you can help us do it better.
While anyone is encouraged to express interest now, we anticipate filling the two current openings with one candidate each from Delaware and New Jersey.
To express your interest, send an email to 3CBA’s president, Chip Becker, at Chip.Becker at klinespecter.com.
And if you’ve read this far and you’re not a 3CBA member yet, well, egads. The link to join is here. And do it fast, dues are going up in 2018 but are still just $40 until then.
The November 2017 issue of On Appeal, the newsletter of the Third Circuit Bar Association, is now available online at this link. It features articles by Donna Doblick on Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith’s portrait ceremony and by Devin Misour on Clerk of Court Marcia Waldron’s retirement announcement.
Since new presidents are on everyone’s mind today, it’s a fitting day to note the change in leadership at the Third Circuit Bar Association.
This month Charles “Chip” Becker became 3CBA president. Becker is a partner at Kline & Specter, leading the firm’s post-trial and appellate litigation work. His father was legendary Third Circuit Judge Edward Becker, and he is a top appellate lawyer in his own right, playing a major role in recent years in litigation arising out of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal and the 2015 Amtrak derailment. One of his first tasks as president will be leading 3CBA’s support of the circuit’s judicial conference in April. Becker is a superb choice for 3CBA president and I look forward to seeing all he accomplishes.
Becker succeeds Peter Goldberger, who led 3CBA as president since 2014. Goldberger is the founder and principal of a three-lawyer firm in Ardmore, PA, focusing on appeals and post-conviction aspects of federal criminal cases nationwide. In 2015 Goldberger added to his extraordinary record of appellate accomplishment by successfully defending in the Third Circuit his post-conviction exoneration of Han Tak Lee. He is the 2015 recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ prestigious Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award and 2016 recipient of the Federal Criminal Law Committee for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Clifford Scott Green Bill of Rights Award. The association has benefited tremendously from his fine leadership as president.
In our polarized age, there aren’t many folks who think the world of both our last US president and our next one. It’s good to remember today that 3CBA has been, and will continue to be, led so well.
Peter Goldberger, President of the Third Circuit Bar Association, has summarized for 3CBA members the changes to the federal appellate rules that went into effect last week. It’s a tremendously helpful overview, and he’s generously given permission to post it here.
(If there’s a better legal-practice bargain than 3CBA’s $40-a-year dues, I don’t know of it.)
Effective December 1, 2016, two important changes in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure went into effect, which I wanted to be sure you knew about. First, the rule has changed by which the time periods are measured for responding to certain filings by another party. Second, the word-limits for briefs, motions and some other filings have changed. In addition, the Third Circuit has recently changed its electronic-filing rule as regards the Appendix to briefs. Finally, some clerk’s office fees have increased. The details of these changes can be found in recent notices posted at the Court’s official website under the heading “News & Announcements.” This email provides the highlights:
- All of us have grown familiar with the time-counting rule under which 3 days were added to the time otherwise set for responding to a document, such as a brief or motion, that was not hand-delivered to us, whenever by rule or order that time period was to be measured from “service” of that document. This additional allowance was based on the typical time that it was understood it takes for first-class mail to be delivered. As of December 1, the federal appellate rule is amended (in parallel with changes in the civil and criminal rules) to treat electronically filed documents as if they had been hand-delivered; that is, three days will no longer be added to the time to respond to motions and briefs that are served through the court’s electronic filing system. Since this effectively shortens the time for responding in many instances, it is important to be aware and plan accordingly.
- As of December 1, the allowable length of briefs and certain other documents, as measured by word-count, has been reduced. Most notably, the permissible length of a principal brief is reduced from 14,000 words to 13,000 words, and for reply briefs from 7000 words to 6500 words. The allowable length of a petition for mandamus changes to 7800 words. An amicus brief is limited to ½ of the size of a principal brief. For a motion or response to a motion, the limit is 5200 words (or 20 pages). (This will sometimes be an increase over the previous rule.) Rehearing petitions will now have a 3900-word limit. As mentioned, there are other details in the Court’s notice.
Notably, unlike some other Circuits, the Third Circuit has neither opted out of any of the national changes, nor will it alter its existing practice or standards for judicial review of motions to exceed these new and reduced word limits.
The revised limits apply to pending cases, except that where the appellant’s opening brief was filed prior to December 1, the new limits do not apply to the appellee’s brief or appellant’s reply.
- The Court has also rescinded the previously-available option (“Option B”) of filing the appendix entirely on paper, and not via ECF. All appendices must now be filed electronically.
- Certain of the Clerk’s fees for services have increased as of 12/1/16. Notably, the list of changes does not include the filing and docketing fees for appeals and petitions.
Most of these changes will be discussed in more detail in the 3CBA’s forthcoming newsletter. As always, the Board thanks you for your membership and participation in our Association.
I just received the August 2016 issue of On Appeal, the newsletter of the Third Circuit Bar Association. The new issue features a warm tribute to Judge Dolores Sloviter, who recently took inactive status, by her former clerk Nancy Winkelman. Winkelman is now a top appellate practitioner at Schnader and President of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Winkelman writes:
. . . I have been so grateful to work with and come to know this most extraordinary jurist: a brilliant intellect, with an extraordinary work ethic; a courage, strength, and independence born of upbringing, character, and necessity; a drive always for the best in herself and everyone around her; a deep commitment to justice and to the judicial system; and that unique and most precious combination of grit and heart.
And, just as Judge Sloviter saw something in me that others may not have seen thirty years ago, so she has given me the opportunity to see something in her. Like many brilliant women of her generation who would come to succeed in a male profession, circumstances required Judge Sloviter to develop a tough exterior. She is of the small cadre of women who were the first in their fields; who were the only women in the room for far too long; who were always surrounded by men who, even when they had good intentions (and many did not), could not possibly have left their prejudices and stereotypes at the door.
Appointed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by President Carter in 1979, Judge Sloviter was the first woman ever to serve as a judge on that Court. She was the first (and so far only) female Chief Judge of the Third Circuit. In fact, she is only the fourth woman in the entire country ever to serve as a Circuit Chief Judge at all. Judge Sloviter authored an astounding 808 precedential opinions in her almost 40-year tenure on the Court of Appeals, shaping the law in numerous areas, including antitrust and the First Amendment.
A fierce advocate for diversity and inclusiveness, as Chief Judge (a position she held from 1991 to 1998), Judge Sloviter created the ground-breaking Task Force on Equal Treatment in the Courts to examine racial and gender bias for the Third Circuit. She opened the Third Circuit Conference to all lawyers for the first time ever (a tradition that continues to this day). And she supported women and work-life balance in numerous ways, including offering part-time law clerk positions to working mothers.
It’s a lovely piece worth reading in full.
Also in this issue are detailed write-ups of State National by Reginald Sainvil of Reed Smith and Roberts v. Ferman by former Fisher clerk Devin Misour of Farrel & Reisinger.
The current On Appeal is not yet available on the 3CBA website, but you can download older issues at this link.
And if you practice in the Third Circuit and you’re not a 3CBA member yet, get on it. Dues are just $40, you can join here.
Howard Bashman’s latest Upon Further Review column in the Legal Intelligencer (free link here) contains a fascinating discussion of video recording of Third Circuit arguments. (That’s a point I mentioned in my circuit website roundup here.) Bashman reports that Chief Judge McKee told him “he was hoping to convince his colleagues on the Third Circuit that the court should join the Ninth Circuit in posting video of its oral arguments online.” I share Howard’s strong support for the idea.
And here is the latest newsletter of the Bar Association for the Third Federal Circuit. As usual it is essential reading for CA3 practitioners and super-fans. It includes an article by Judge Smith discussing circuit cost-reduction efforts, which notes:
[I]n the wake of sequestration, Chief Judge
Theodore A. McKee implemented a fiscal austerity program to be applied to
both the use of space within the court units of the Circuit and the expenditure
of funds that could be re-programmed from facility improvements to personnel.
Quite simply, Chief Judge McKee’s concerns were that the job security of
court staff has priority over any short-term improvements in rented space. Our
Circuit was the only one in the country to adopt such a policy. And that policy
set the tone for our implementation of the national space reduction goals that
were subsequently mandated by the Judicial Conference.
The latest issue also includes this article, co-authored by Bashman and me, discussing the Lehman Brothers decision, plus an article by me on CA3 en banc practice, adapted from this blog post. I was proud to have the chance to contribute to 3CBA’s fine work.