A Time-Saving Method of Stating in Appellate Briefs, the Controlling Questions for Decision

Robert von Moschzisker
1925 The Yale law journal  
Law is a science, but its administration is an art; diligent pursuers of this art devise methods by which they achieve success, and when these successes present developments in practice which may be made of common use, they are as much the concern of others engaged in the same field of endeavor as are advances in the science itself. With these thoughts in mind, it seemed to the writer that, in view of the constant complaints of the law's delay, a plan which has materially aided one of our
more » ... ed one of our busiest appellate tribunals in bringing its work up to date 1 may well be considered a subject of general interest. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has accomplished this desirable result very largely by confining oral arguments in each case to onehalf hour a side; but, to make the short-argument plan effective, additional rules were required, and one of the chief of these provides that a concise statement of the controlling questions for decision, drawn according to strict regulations outlined in the rule, must be included in the brief of every appellant. These regulations have proved so useful in operation that a discussion of their origin, terms and advantages appears to be warranted. The court had long required a statement of the "history of the case," and, originally, it was intended that this should show, in narrative form, without unnecessary details, not only the nature of the controversy and the steps taken in the court below, but also the points to be determined on appeal. Counsel, however, fell into the habit of inserting so many details as to obscure the controlling questions; as a result, hope of obtaining this information through the medium of the history of the case was abandoned, and, in i9oo, new rules were promulgated requiring appellants to insert in their briefs a separate "statement of the questions involved." At first the regulation on the subject read thus: "The statement of the questions involved is designed to enable the court to obtain an immediate view of the nature of the controversy. It must state the question or questions in the briefest and most general terms, without names, dates, amounts or particulars of any kind whatsoever. It should not By "bringing its work up to date," I mean that, when the last session of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania opened, all cases which were ripe for argument and decision had been heard and disposed of by opinions filed, and the lists are now in such condition that, where desired, cases can be, and many are, set for argument within seven weeks from the perfection of the appeal, or in less time where both sides are prepared and agree to the advancement. 1x [287]
doi:10.2307/788595 fatcat:kr6kbqhzcfhn3apjssqtvzm2uu