Persuasive Writing Hall of Shame: Westover v. United States

WASTING YOUR MOST VALUABLE REAL ESTATE

WHAT WENT WRONG IN THIS BRIEF: 

You only get one first line, and you only get one first paragraph. This is by far your best chance to grab your Judge's attention, and let her know there's a compelling brief coming.

The entire opening paragraph is wasted here with information that is unpersuasive and uninteresting. It may be factually accurate, and it may even need to be included in the brief, but it certainly should not be the first thing the Judge reads. Every sentence, every paragraph is an opportunity for advocacy - especially the fist sentence and paragraph of the Statement section. There is no excuse for letting this opportunity go to waste. Read for yourself:     


Supreme Court of the United States.
Carl Calvin WESTOVER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
February 24, 1966.

Brief for the United States

STATEMENT

Petitioner was tried by a jury, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, on a two-count indictment charging that he robbed two federally insured financial institutions located in Sacramento, California, and that, in the course of each robbery, he jeopardized the life of a named person “by the use of a dangerous weapon, to wit: a gun,” in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2113 (a) and (d) (R. 1-2)…