Now that you know how to focus your purpose in selecting appendix documents, you have to narrow your selection to the particular categories set out in the Supreme Court Rules.

Required:  “Relevant” lower court/agency orders.

The required petition appendix documents are all court or administrative agency orders of some stripe.  Rule 14.1(i)(i-iv).

One thing to definitely not include anywhere in the appendix is the mandate.  The mandate from the highest court below does not set the time for requesting certiorari (Rule 13.3), adds nothing to the quest for a writ, and should not be included unless something about the mandate is the subject of the requested review.

One thing to definitely include, though it may not be the order actually claimed to be wrong, is an order denying rehearing, if rehearing was timely requested.  Rehearing denial or refusal to reconsider a denial of review would set the timing and must be included, but it does not go first.  (This will be addressed in upcoming part 3.)

The court orders required to be included may or may not be obvious, so here are some guidelines about selection and arrangement prescribed by Rule 14:

The Challenged Decision.  Start the appendix with “the opinions, orders, findings of fact, and conclusions of law, whether written or orally given and transcribed, entered in conjunction with the judgment sought to be reviewed.” Rule 14.1(i)(i).  The first thing is the document in which the highest court under the U.S. Supreme Court explains its reasons for the final judgment that you are attacking.  This places right at the front the very document that you, as the Petitioner seeking review, hold out as the decision that conflicts with other circuit or state decisions or otherwise violates the Court’s own decisions or raises some important new legal twist that urgently must be addressed on high.

When document analysts at Cockle Legal Briefs review a batch of documents intended for inclusion in an appendix and check for compliance with Rule 14’s requirements, we start by identifying the court order that explains why the highest court below took the action that the petitioner claims was wrong.  Typically this is the latest “opinion” or “decision” issued by the federal court of appeals or the state supreme court.

As with all of the other required parts of the appendix, that first order or opinion must be the entire document, even if only a small part of it actually addresses the issue that is going to be set out in the Questions Presented part of the brief.  If you have to have it there, you have to have it all.

There might also be a formal judgment or order by some other name decreeing the action (dismissal, affirmance, reversal, etc.) without explaining why, but it is the explanatory decision that goes first in the appendix.  The formal nonexplanatory order likely would come next, but only because it is the latest in the batch of documents in the next required category.  (If the formal order has a different date from the one explaining the appellate judgment, and its date is the one used for setting the due date for the certiorari petition, then the formal order goes at the end of the required orders, as will be discussed later.)

Other Relevant Decisions.  The next required category consists of what might seem to be a broad group of “any other relevant opinions, orders, findings of fact, and conclusions of law entered in the case by courts or administrative agencies.”  Rule 14.1(i)(ii).  “Relevant” is the key narrowing word here.


Next:  Other relevant orders.