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The appellate system serves important functions in child welfare cases. It ensures that the relationship between a child and his or her parent is not unjustly terminated. It forces juvenile courts and child welfare agencies to strictly follow statutes, court rules, and agency policies. And it preserves public faith in the system by serving as an independent check to correct mistakes that occur.

But the appellate system is only as good as the advocates who appear before it. This chapter is intended to be a resource for those advocates, both those who have practiced child welfare law for many years and those who are .new to the area. This chapter will cover the basics of the appellate process, will discuss basic issues related to writing briefs and presenting oral arguments, and will highlight some of the common issues that arise in child welfare appeals.

However, this guide is not a comprehensive primer on how to write persuasive briefs or make effective oral arguments. Much has already been written on these topics. Resources to help advocates improve these skills are listed in § 28.8.

When confronted with the possibility of appealing a trial court's decision, an appellate attorney must first determine whether the client has a right to appeal the decision or whether he or she would have to appeal by leave.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2016 of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC).