appellate practice manual

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California Criminal Appellate Practice Manual

The Appellate Defenders, Inc., California Appellate Practice Manual is designed to assist appointed attorneys representing criminal and juvenile clients on appeal in California. It addresses common matters often encountered in appellate practice and gives attorneys a guide through each phase of the entire process.

The manual discusses a great variety of topics in law and procedure, practice, ethics, and policy. Some of the material is basic, but much is advanced, based on extensive research. It is over 700 pages long and is searchable. The manual is divided into nine chapters, listed below.

The ADI Appellate Practice Manual is the product of many years of effort. Using various sources – articles from the 1993 ADI manual, drafts written for the manual, briefs, and much original research – Executive Director Elaine Alexander and Senior Staff Attorney Howard Cohen did the primary writing (and multiple rewrites) and editing. Each chapter was reviewed by one or more ADI staff attorneys. A team of staff attorneys also reviewed the entire manual for correctness of substance and consistency. Law clerks and attorneys checked all citations repeatedly.

The Second Edition in April 2016 offered the first major expansion of the Manual’s scope, incorporating significant dependency materials, including citations to dependency cases, statutes, and rules; discussions of areas of difference between criminal and juvenile and dependency law; and treating new topics such as appealability of dependency judgments and orders, common dependency issues on appeal, non-appealing minor’s filings, and dependency statutory writs. Dependency attorneys Laura Furness and Michelle Peña made major contributions.

The Third Edition was released in January 2023, after an extensive review undertaken by Howard Cohen and a team chaired by him, including Arthur Martin, Siri Shetty, Pauline Villanueva, Elena Min, and Savannah Montanez. The Third Edition was published for Chapters 1 through 8 (Chapter 9 has been discontinued).

We believe the ADI Appellate Practice Manual is a product of great quality and usability. We hope that it will be consulted regularly and routinely by new and experienced appellate practitioners alike, and that it will be a truly valuable resource to them.

A printed and CD version of the manual can be purchased (click here for PDF order form) or downloaded, below. The most up-to-date version will always be the one online.

To download manual in one PDF document, click below:

by Appellate Defenders, Inc. (PDF -- 4.37 MB size)

April 2020 Revision © 2006, 2016

To download manual by chapters, click on each individual PDF section below:

Agreement & Disclaimer

Chapter 1 - Basic Information
Chapter 2 - Appealability
Chapter 3 - Prebriefing Responsibilities
Chapter 4 - Issue Spotting
Chapter 5 - Briefing
Chapter 6 - Oral Argument
Chapter 7 - Decisions & Later
Chapter 8 - State Writs

Instructions for searching: Adobe has a search window. Open the manual (or chapter, if you know which one), and type the keyword or phrase in the FIND window. It searches the PDF document for every instance of the word. The window usually is at the righthand side of the toolbar. Depending on the version of Adobe you are using, you also can get it by clicking on the binoculars icon, or by clicking EDIT -> FIND or by hitting Control-F.

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*The material found on this website is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered to be legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete or up to date. Use of this website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the user and Appellate Defenders, Inc. (ADI) or any of the firm's attorneys. Readers should not rely upon or act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. See full disclaimer.