Current Practices of the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals

Current Practices of the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals

by Beth Crawford, Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.

This regularly-appearing column will answer your questions about current practices in the internal operating procedures at the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals. Please submit your questions that would benefit the entire Section. The responses from the Courts relate to their “current” practices. Both Courts continually make changes to address new concerns and experiment with new procedures to improve the operations of the Courts and increase effectiveness and efficiency. The Courts may decline to answer those questions that implicate the confidentiality of the Courts’ inner workings.

This column would not be possible without the willingness of the Courts to participate and answer questions. My very special ongoing thanks to the Chief Staff Attorneys from the First and the Fourteenth, Janet Williams and Nina Indelicato, and to both Courts generally.
Next Month’s Topic: Motions for Extensions of Time and rulings on motions and orders.

Topic 3. What is the staffing structure for the Courts as it relates to staff attorneys, briefing attorneys and central staff attorneys?

The First Court of Appeals

Each justice on the Court has two attorneys. Four of the justices have two permanent staff attorneys. The other five justices have one permanent staff attorney and one law clerk. A law clerk is usually a recent law school graduate who serves a one-year term with the Court.

Additionally, the Court has four central staff attorneys. One central staff attorney is responsible for all pre-submission criminal matters, including motions and record and briefing issues. That attorney also handles criminal original proceedings. The second central staff attorney handles record and briefing issues in civil matters, as well as habeas corpus proceedings. The third central staff attorney handles original proceedings for the justices who do not have a second permanent staff attorney. The fourth central staff attorney works primarily with visiting judges on civil and criminal appeals.

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals

Each justice on the Court has two attorneys. Four of the justices have two permanent staff attorneys. The other five justices have one permanent staff attorney and one briefing attorney. A briefing attorney is usually a recent law school graduate who serves a one-year term with the Court.

The Court also has five central staff attorneys. Two attorneys handle all original proceedings and emergency matters, including writs of mandamus, habeas corpus, injunction and prohibition. The other three central staff attorneys are each assigned to a panel and are responsible for the panel's docket management in both civil and criminal cases, including assisting with motion rulings, record and briefing issues, jurisdictional problems, and docketing of cases for submission.

In addition, the Court employs four part-time attorneys on a contract basis to assist the justices in researching and drafting opinions.