EVERGREEN SUPREME COURT

WRITING THE APPELLATE BRIEF:
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
 

I. CONCLUSION

In an appellate brief, there are conclusions and there is the conclusion. This means simply that there are conclusions at the end of the major points of your ARGUMENT and that there is an overall conclusion at the end of your brief.

A. Conclusion of Major Points

Your argument for each major point should lead up to a briefly stated conclusion about the result you want the court to reach regarding that point. Of course, this conclusion is stated at the end of that particular major point. As an example, the following is the last sentence of Argument I in the appellees’ brief in the case of Plyler v. Doe:

In sum, the wording of the Fourteenth Amendment, its legislative history, the case law and common sense support a holding that undocumented aliens are protected by the Equal Protection Clause.
Notice how similar this language is to the point heading of that section of the argument: I. UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN ARE PROTECTED BY THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE. The additional words "legislative history," "case law" and "common sense" are in the conclusion because these are areas explored in Argument I to prove that the Equal Protection Clause protects undocumented children. The similarity between this conclusion and the point heading should not be surprising. Recall how the instructions for writing a point heading stated that "it really is a conclusion made even before the argument is presented."

B. "The" Conclusion

An appellate brief culminates in a succinctly stated conclusion, often no more than one or two sentences. That conclusion should not only capture your position on the issue(s) before the court, but also inform the court about the action you want it to take on the appeal. For example, in the Plyler v. Doe appellees’ brief, the CONCLUSION reads, in its entirety:

CONCLUSION
Sections 21.031(a), (b) & (c) of the Texas Education Code are unconstitutional for they violate the Equal Protection Clause and interfere with the objective of Federal education policy. The rulings of each of the lower courts should thus be affirmed.
Write persuasively as you bring closure to your case. Be careful not to raise any issues that you did not previously bring up in your brief. Notice how the CONCLUSION above answers both of the questions presented in the appellees’ brief: 1. Whether Section 21.031 of the Texas Education Code, by effectively causing the exclusion of undocumented school children, denies them Equal Protection as mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment.

2. Whether Section 21.031 frustrates the objectives of Federal Education Legislation and thus is preempted.
 
 
 

II. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

A well-written Summary of Argument gives a preview of the substantive points raised in your ARGUMENT. It also can serve as a brief review of those main points after you have made them. In the summary, you have the opportunity to emphasize your strongest arguments.

You should be able to summarize your ARGUMENT (all of the major points made in your brief) in one to three paragraphs. Of course, you should not write this Summary of Argument until you and your co-counsel are satisfied with a final version of your ARGUMENT. Since you and your co-counsel each developed different parts of the ARGUMENT section of the brief, the Summary of Argument must be a collaborative writing exercise. One way to achieve this task is for each of you to write a paragraph that summarizes the part of the ARGUMENT you wrote. Then, you can make decisions about whether you need to edit the paragraphs to blend them into a cohesive whole. Depending on how each of you has written your summary paragraph, it may well be that little or no editing/blending is needed.

In a brief, there are two appropriate places for a summary of the argument:

1. An appropriate version of the summary should be the last section of the STATEMENT OF THE CASE along with the latter's Statement of Facts and Procedural History. The Summary of Argument then appears immediately before the ARGUMENT itself.

2. An appropriate summary should may be part of the CONCLUSION section of your brief. The version that is placed there is not labeled as Summary of the Argument, because it is considered to be part of the brief's conclusion section.  If a summary of the argument is placed there, it should lead logically to the concluding paragraph in that section of the brief (see above, The Conclusion). It is possible that the most effective conclusion will be only one sentence, something like "The judgment of the Court of Appeals should be affirmed."