Effective appellate advocacy is a different skill set from successful trial advocacy. While attorneys at trial are trying to persuade juries or a single judge, appellate attorneys must persuade panels of judges looking not to determine facts but to ensure that the law and applicable procedure were followed at trial.  While trial attorneys are (generally speaking) control the direction of their advocacy, appellate attorneys must be more flexible adapting and responding to questions from the bench.  As one appellate attorney has phrased it, appellate advocates “must know main roads, byways, cavers, wherever the judges want to go.”

YJB’s appellate attorneys work at all stages of case development, ensuring that the record is protected and the client’s interests are well represented before the appellate panel, both in the briefing and at oral argument.  They also are involved at the trial stage, handling briefing and argument of motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. Our office has participated in cases at every level of the appellate system, up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States, both as counsel for a party and as amicus curiae, in railroad cases and beyond.

Representative Cases:

  • Rookaird v. BNSF Ry. Co., 908 F.3d 451 (9th Cir. 2018)
  • Wallis v. BNSF Ry. Co., 680 Fed. Appx. 515 (9th Cir. 2017)
  • Grimes v. BNSF Ry. Co., 746 F.3d 184 (5th Cir. 2014)
  • CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride, 131 S. Ct. 2630, 564 U.S. 685 (2011) (for amicus Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys)
  • Norfolk & W. Ry. Co. v. Ayers, 123 S. Ct. 1210, 538 U.S. 135 (2003) (for amicus Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen)
  • Vonderhaar v. Soo Line R.R. Co., 626 N.W.2d 314 (Wis. App. 2001)
  • Smalley v. Duluth, Winnipeg & Pac. Ry. Co., 940 F.2d 296 (8th Cir. 1990)