On Appeal: Courts, Lawyering, and Judging

Frank M. Coffin, Author
Frank M. Coffin, Author W. W. Norton & Company $27.5 (373p) ISBN 978-0-393-03582-7
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Part history, part personal reflection, part handbook, this worthy guide to the appellate court written by a federal appeals court judge seems most appropriate for lawyers and court watchers. After sketching the different procedures for appeals in various legal systems and the relationship between state and federal courts, Coffin describes his own work, explaining how he reads lawyers' briefs and prepares for oral argument. Drawing on more than 25 years of experience, he recounts how judges discuss cases among themselves and offers useful detail about writing opinions, working with law clerks and achieving ``collegiality'' with co-workers. Most interesting is Coffin's ruminations on the nature of decisions: he admits to an eclectic approach that draws on everything from utilitarianism to sociology, and he observes wisely that the ``much-discussed bipolarities of judicial restraint and activism'' are easily manipulated concepts. (Feb.)
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