California legal briefs – examples and templates
Looking for California appellate briefs? Seeking guidance when drafting a brief?
Alameda County Law Library offers resources for researching appellate and trial briefs.
We are one of the few public law libraries in California that provides free access to a database – California Public Law Library Briefs Service – supplied by Thomson Reuters. The database, whose holdings begin around 1992, is available on our public computers using your ACLL patron number. With a party name or case number, you can retrieve the text of documents. Not all California appellate court briefs are part of this database. This service is a stripped down version of commercial resources. No keyword or subject searching. The original formatting of the document is removed but the text can be cut and pasted into a Word document, then saved to a flash drive. No direct emailing from the database. But it is free and may save the effort of going to the court to locate a copy of a brief for an identified appellate case.
For earlier appeals, ACLL has a collection of California briefs on microfiche. This collection is organized by court district and appellate case number. (For all you millennials, here is a definition of microfiche.) ACLL has a viewer but no printing facilities.
ACLL also has access on Lexis to the California Briefs, Pleadings, & Motions file which the publisher describes as:
The file includes all available California Federal and State Briefs, submitted to lay out the argument for various petitions and motions before the court, to counter the arguments of opposing lawyers, and to provide the judge with reasons to rule in favor of the party represented by the brief writer.
This file can be searched by keywords, party names, and other document segments. The ACLL Lexis subscription allows for emailing items, as well as, downloading and printing.
The mechanics of writing a brief
Instructions and templates for writing briefs can be found in a number of guides at our library or on the internet. Included are:
- Rutter Guide Appeals & Writs. Chapter 16:27 discusses the formatting of a brief for the Superior Court Appellate Division
- From the California Court of Appeal 4th District, The California Court of Appeal Step by Step, Appendix K has sample forms
- From the 2d District, Civil Appellate Practices and Procedures for the Self-Represented, Chapter 4, “Briefing the Case.”
- San Diego Law Library has a research guide, “Civil Appeals Guide: Sample Briefs“. The guide provides editable forms.
CEB also has a number of resources:
- 12 Tips for Writing an Effective Appellate Brief
- Handling Civil Appeals (Action Guide)
- California Civil Appellate Practice, Chapter 12 “Appellant’s Opening and Reply Briefs”
A “trial brief” is a written summary or statement submitted by a party that explains to a judge the party’s position on particular issues that will be part of the trial [Cal. Rules of Ct., Rule 5.393(a)(3)]. For specific jurisdictional requirements, consult the appropriate local court rules.
- 18 California Forms of Pleading and Practice–Annotated § 221.63
- CEB California Trial Practice: Civil Procedure During Trial
- California Trial Handbook § 9:3
- 36 California Forms of Pleading and Practice–Annotated § 417.12, “Points and Authorities Compared With Briefs”
- Litigation by the Numbers., § 6.3.2 sample Memorandum of Points & Authorities
- MB CA Torts §95.04 has a detailed description of the parts of an arbitration brief
- CA Forms of Pleading & Practice §33.53 “arbitration book”
Can’t get into the library? ACLL does provide document delivery services.