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The Florida Bar
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Charles R Wilson
Circuit Judge

The following information was provided in response to a survey prepared by the Federal Court Practice Committee of The Florida Bar. This information is not binding on any judge or court official, is not a substitute for either the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure or the Eleventh Circuit Rules, and may not be relied upon for precedential purposes.

JUDGE

Court: Eleventh Circuit
Chambers' Phone: 813-301-5650
Chambers' email address (emergency contact only):

Judicial Assistant

      Name:
      Phone:
      Email address:

COMMUNICATION WITH CHAMBERS

IOP 4 to 11th Circuit Rule 25-6 provides that all documents must be sent to the Clerk's Office unless the court directs otherwise. In addition to IOP 4:

Do you permit counsel to contact chambers on questions of procedure?

Do you permit counsel to contact a law clerk on the status of a pending appeal?

USE OF CELL PHONES, LAPTOPS, AND OTHER ELECTRONICS IN COURT

Laptop computers and other electronic devices are not permitted at oral argument without prior permission of the court. Do you have any policies governing when such permission may be granted?

*Always verify with the Clerk of Court or the U.S. Marshal's Service as to any procedures relating to the use of cell phones or other electronic devices at the courthouse.

APPELLATE PRACTICE - ORAL ARGUMENT

Is counsel required to get prior approval to use a demonstrative aid during oral argument?

Is counsel required to get prior approval to split oral argument time with co-counsel?

Is counsel required to get prior approval to change the order of oral argument?

May counsel hand deliver supplemental authority pursuant to Fed.R.App.P.28(j) on the day of oral argument?

May counsel provide the panel with copies of cases or parts of the record during oral argument?

May a lawyer ask for additional oral argument time at the conclusion of his/her allotted oral argument time?

Is there a limit to the number of counsel who can be seated at counsel table and, if so, what is that limit?

May a party sit at counsel table?

How should counsel start oral argument (i.e., the opening words)?

If a case involves a cross-appeal, what is the order of oral argument?

Should counsel address a judge on the panel by title and last name, or by the non-specific "judge" or "your honor"?

What should counsel bring (or not bring) to the podium for oral argument?

What, if any, comments or suggestions do you have regarding effective oral advocacy before the Eleventh Circuit? In the Eleventh Circuit, only approximately one-third of appeals are scheduled for oral argument. Two-thirds of the cases are decided on the basis of the briefs alone. The cases that are scheduled for oral argument are those that typically involve intractable issues that may trouble a particular judge, close cases, or cases involving issues of first impressions in the Circuit. Therefore, counsel should arrive at oral argument prepared to answer questions from the panel rather than regurgitate or summarize what is already in the briefs. Counsel should be prepared to engage in a dialogue or discussion with the court about the pertinent issues in the case. To do so, counsel should be thoroughly familiar with the record, the applicable standard of review and important precedent governing the case. Oral argument time is relatively short and must be utilized wisely.

What, if any, training material or other resources do you recommend for a lawyer to learn about effective oral argument?

What procedure should counsel follow for having transcripts of the oral argument made?

What, if any, pet peeves do you have concerning oral arguments?

What, if any, comments or observations do you have concerning the differences and/or similarities between successful oral advocacy in trial courts and successful oral advocacy in appellate courts?

APPELLATE PRACTICE - BRIEF WRITING

Do you prefer that counsel include or omit unpublished cases in briefs when there are no published opinions on point?

What, if any, comments or suggestions do you have regarding effective brief writing? The court's first impression of the case is obtained from the brief itself. If the case is not orally argued, the briefs may provide counsel's only opportunity to persuade the court. Therefore, thorough preparation of the brief is critical. The most effective briefs are those that are accurate, contain appropriate citations to the record, and are written with clarity and brevity. If there are multiple issues, counsel should lead with their strongest arguments. Do not bury winning arguments in a pile of multiple losers. Devote the majority of the brief to the winning arguments.

Also, I have seen briefs raising issues that could be resolved in favor of the framer, but the answers to the framed issue would not entitle the framer to relief. They are interesting issues, but don't affect the bottom line: affirmance or reversal. The issues should be framed so that the answer to the question would entitle the party to relief.
Appellate judges read thousands of pages of brief a month. Briefs that stand out and make the most favorable impression are those that are interesting to read. It is important to ensure that the brief comports with the requirements of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, but it is also important to ensure that they are written to provide the court exactly what it needs to know efficiently and directly.


What, if any, training material or other resources do you recommend for a lawyer to learn about effective brief writing?

What, if any, pet peeves do you have concerning brief writing?

What, if any, comments or observations do you have concerning the differences and/or similarities between successful written advocacy in trial courts and successful written advocacy in appellate courts?

LINKS

Links to your court's webpage with information about your practices or other links you recommend for practitioners:

ATTACHMENTS
(articles, biography, etc.)

Attachments:

Survey last modified on

[Revised: 06-21-2007]