Our office has never had what I'd call a "brief library," and we have Appellant's Briefs and State's Reply Briefs from about the past 10-15 years piling up in the office. My thoughts are to either file them with our casefiles in archives (fileroom will hate me for that), or file with the District Clerk's Office (they'll hate me for that). Any suggestions? What do yall do?
We gave up on ours years ago. Between Westlaw and computer searches of the backup drive, the brief bank wasn't needed or used. We do keep a copy of each brief in the case file that gets sent to the warehouse after the mandate issued.
I can't imagine that the district clerk would accept hundreds of old briefs.
Why can't your briefs be held electronically on a hard drive? We save ours here on a local network. Much easier to search, cut, paste and generally peruse.
Williamson County, Texas
I am with John and David. For the office appellate file we have one printed copy of the brief and, after filing, all briefs are electronically filed in our brief bank (with an index incorporated). For the brief bank, we transfer the brief to a read-only folder shared by the entire office. Only the appellate attorneys can modify the brief bank.
It is up to the individual attorneys whether they keep a personal copy of a brief. The main reason for keeping a hard copy is in case the computer system crashes and we need the complete appellate record for a writ years down the road. But we are probably overcautious. I can't imagine anyone else wanting to store State's briefs when they are not obliged to do so.
I definitely keep all my briefs, etc, electronically. I also agree that with Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis, etc that the "brief bank" is more cumbersome. Thanks for the input, it confirms what I've felt for a while.
When I first started in Dallas, I think most folks kept a copy of their brief and the opinion in a separate file when the main file went to storage. Most of us have abandoned that now, I think.
But this thread raises a question with me. Do most folks just use their trial file to hold appellate stuff? We maintain a separate file for appeals and writs. It is taking up alot of space, but we sure find it useful.
I, of course, do not have the volume/space problems/issues being discussed. But, do not you still have to access the trial file from time to time during the course of the appeal? If so, why do you find it convenient to create a separate appeal file, rather than just an appeal section or area within the file?
One reason I keep a hard copy of my briefs is whenever I find a new case (or find the one missed originally) that answers a question or adds to the contents of a brief I annotate the old brief. I find it easier for me to recall an issue from a prior brief than to start research all over again, and if I only had an electronic version to annotate, I am not sure I would do it. I realize if I had written more briefs or was filling shelf after shelf, the less useful and more bulky this procedure would become. But, I still think I would try to keep those briefs that I thought involved developing areas of the law or issues more likely to recur. Does anyone just like to go back and read briefs to compare their writing/organization style over the years?
We keep separate files for appeals and writs too. It seems to the most efficient method of collating the materials and monitoring the contents. We keep the trial file in appeals only when we have a State's appeal (to stall/prevent any further action) or on writs. It seems that in bigger offices combining the trial, appellate, and writ files runs the risk that something will be mislaid in another division without any accountability. We do maintain a big case storage facility (typically for capital cases) where all the trial materials are kept on site instead of out at storage. I am not convinced that computers will ever replace hard copies until we have a reliable method to electronically store everything. This will require advances in scanning or copying machines.
A portion of our appellate files and a substantial portion of our trial files are now off site. We are getting ready to send writs older than 10 years off site. Capital files are onsite.
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