"Focus letters make oral argument better,” says Justice Lambden

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
January 4, 2023

Some appellate courts issue tentative opinions or focus letters, tipping off counsel to the issues of most interest to the panel. Justice James Lambden says they improve the quality of oral argument.

Think about it: three appellate judges and their research attorneys have been thinking deeply about this one question in the case, and then the panel springs it on counsel without warning.

Instead of just making sport of the outing, a focus letter would help bring counsel into the conversation where they might stand a chance at helping the discussion along—rather than just floundering out there to no one’s benefit.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 51 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at tkowal@tvalaw.com or (714) 641-1232.

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