New edition of appellate manual ready for download

Nevada attorneys worried about navigating the state’s new court of appeals and appellate framework now have a comprehensive guide to traverse the appeals process.

Debbie Leonard, a partner and co-chairwoman of McDonald Carano’s Appellate Practice Group, has completed her work as lead editor of the 2016 edition of the Nevada Appellate Practice Manual. She edited each chapter for substantive accuracy, consistency and uniform style. This manual is the first update of the State Bar of Nevada’s appellate manual since 2004 and is the only guidebook focused on Nevada appellate practice.

The 2016 edition is now available for download on the State Bar’s website – Hard copies of the manual, which can be preordered, should be available this month.

In November 2014, Nevada voters approved a referendum to establish a Court of Appeals in the state, and the court started hearing appeals in March. Prior to that, the state’s Supreme Court heard all appeals, which caused a backlog in the court system and slowed down the Supreme Court from publishing its decisions about new case law.

But that is not the only reason it was time to update the manual.

“The original came out in 2004, so under any circumstance, too much time had passed since it had been updated,” Leonard said. “But certainly, with the approval of voters for the Court of Appeals, there was a whole host of new rules and a new procedural mechanism that by which cases could be assigned to the Court of Appeals and reviewed by the Supreme Court. So, all of that needed to be put into the practice manual.”

When Leonard was asked to take on role of lead editor for the manual, she wanted to make sure the manual was easy to reference. So, the manual follows an outline format, with a unique number assigned to each separate topic, so the practitioner does not have to search through a lot of narrative to find the information relevant to their case.

“We purposely designed the manual so that it was really easy to reference specific material and to find specific material,” Leonard said. “The existing manual was more in the narrative format, so a practitioner would have to read through multiple paragraphs and pages of material to find the information they were looking for.

“Now, each separate topic and subtitle all have assigned to them a unique number and the index will reference that number, so the practitioner or self-represented litigant can go straight to that unique number and find the information they are looking for. It’s really an effective way to find the information quickly and efficiently and not have to wade through a whole lot of other materials.”

Seth T. Floyd, chairman of the State Bar’s Appellate Litigation section, said one of the things he likes about the updated manual is that it now includes practice tips, similar to the Nevada Civil Practice Manual, which is also being updated this year. Floyd also helped author the chapter on post-judgment issues.

“It’s lawyers who have done it giving advice of how you handle certain issues that come up in litigation,” Floyd said. “This manual incorporates some of that as well, and that will be really useful, especially for young lawyers who may be taking on their first appeal. That has been another value added for the manual.”

Leonard, who also wrote the chapter on appealing agency determinations, reached out to some of the state’s top appellate attorneys to author the individual chapters. She also reached out to those who specialize in other relevant areas to make the sure the manual is comprehensive.

For example, Margaret M. Crowley, a mediation and Supreme Court of Nevada settlement judge, was a good fit to help write the chapter on settlements.

Anne R. Traum, a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV, wrote the chapter on pro bono appeals. Leonard said she spearheads the pro bono appeals program and that made her the best fit to write that chapter.

“There were so many people working together to create a really good product,” Leonard said. “I had a vision, and everyone worked together to create the vision I wanted, and the State Bar really completed that vision. All the authors were great to work with as well, and ultimately we created a great product.”

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