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A recent dissent by Judge Kelly in an Eighth Circuit civil rights case highlights an interesting Constitutional fact. Prison inmates (and individuals remanded to mental health institutions) are the only people in the United States who enjoy a constitutional right to medical care. The dissent came in Avery v. Turn Key Health Clinics LLC. The majority decision affirmed a grant of summary judgment for a bevy of individual and corporate health care providers who failed…
Quoting judicial opinions can authenticate and bolster arguments in a brief. The problem is that direct quotes can get cumbersome. The opinion you are quoting may have quoted from another decision, which may have quoted from yet another. And so on. Spend some time with Rules 5.2(e) and 10.6 of the Bluebook and you can get depressed about the parentheses, brackets, ellipses, case conversions, and primary and secondary (and beyond) quotation marks a passage might…
Appellants try to get trial court judgments reversed. The basic job of appellate judges is to decide, case-by-case, whether a trial judge made an error significant enough to require that his or her judgment be overturned. The tests appellate judges apply to make that determination are called standards of review. The applicable standard of review depends on characteristics of the challenge—for example, the type of ruling that is challenged (admission or exclusion of evidence, keeping…
Missouri appellate courts take the structure of an argument heading very, very seriously. For decades the Missouri Supreme Court has prescribed the format of “points relied on” and insisted on compliance. Briefs have been stricken and appeals dismissed for wayward headings. Lawyers have been rebuked in published opinions for presuming to take liberties. I know. The formula is this: “The trial court erred in [identify the challenged ruling or action], because [state the legal reasons…