June 3, 2019

What Timbs v. Indiana Can Teach Appellate Lawyers About the Question Presented

Written By

Adam C. Reeves
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC

It is a familiar refrain that the “Question Presented” or “Statement of the Issue” can be the most important yet overlooked portion of an appellate brief. Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 83 (Thomson West 2008).  In fact, Justice William Brennan once wrote that “[i]n a substantial percentage of cases I find that I need read only the ‘Questions Presented’ to decide how I will dispose of the case.”  William J. Brennan Jr., The National Court of Appeals: Another Dissent, 40 U. Chi. L. Rev. 473, 477 (1973).  Accordingly, there is no shortage of guidance for how to strike the right balance of detail, persuasion, and pith in a question presented or statement of the issue.


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