yes, we all have (too many) issues



In his On Appeal column at, Howard Bashman explores the question “How Many Issues Should You Raise on Appeal?” (Oct. 2, 2006).  Although aimed at lawyers, his discussion should be taken to heart by pro se litigants on appeal, as they are probably even more likely than lawyers to have a laundry list of grievances they feel compelled to raise after losing at the trial level.  Howard starts with the expected advice that “it is a mistake to raise too many issues on appeal.”  But, he quickly notes, “Unfortunately, it’s one thing to proclaim that raising too many issues on appeal is bad, but it’s quite another to determine exactly what that means and how the advice should be implemented in a given case. “

 HowardBashman  The column offers some general guidelines:
In an ordinary appeal from a trial court to an intermediate appellate court, it’s best to raise four issues or fewer — and one should attempt, if at all possible, to avoid raising more than six issues. . . . . When seeking discretionary appellate review in a court of last resort, such as the U.S. Supreme Court or a state’s highest court, it’s preferable to raise just one or two issues — and no more than three issues should be raised unless absolutely necessary. 

But, on the other hand, Howard wisely counters that “Of course, the number of issues to be raised on appeal is not a decision that can be made in a vacuum. The number of issues to be raised on appeal depends on what the case is about, how many different rulings or orders are at issue in the appeal, and the grounds on which those rulings or orders will be challenged on appeal.”    The column contains good advice and is worth a look, if you’re going to be writing an appellate brief (remember: even experienced lawyers frequently find it quite difficult to comply with the court’s page limit rules). 
Howard closes the piece by disagreeing with the notion recently raised by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that a litigant might waive the right to appeal by raising too many issues.

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