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Locating Appellate Court Briefs: Home

An introductory guide to locating state and federal briefs online and in print

About this Guide

This guide is designed to give an introduction to finding appellate court briefs in print and using electronic resources.

What is a brief?

A brief is a written legal document filed with a court to argue a position or point of law that is at issue in the case before the court. A brief is part of the court docket and is a public document.

Why are briefs helpful?

Court briefs provide insight into the arguments made before the court and can also provide more factual information about the original case than can be ascertained from the appellate court's opinion.

Types of briefs:

  • Trial Brief: Trial briefs are filed prior to trial and set forth arguments to be made during the trial.
  • Appellate Brief: Appellate briefs are submitted to the appellate court and set forth arguments as to why the lower court erred in judgment.
  • Amicus Curiae Brief: Amicus curiae briefs are submitted to the court by non-parties interested in the outcome of litigation.

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About This Guide

The reference department would like to thank Tamara Heyward for creating this guide.  It is updated by the reference librarians.