Is Your Appellate Counsel an Effective Advocate?

An effective advocate knows that exaggeration or hyperbole can be counterproductive.  This proved true in a recent appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  

In this case, the plaintiff argued that she was an "occupant" of a vehicle insured by State Farm when she sustained injuries after landing on its hood.  State Farm's appellate counsel called this argument "ridiculous."  In accepting the plaintiff's argument, the appellate court chastized the attorney for characterizing the argument in this way:  
There are good reasons not to call an opponent's argument "ridiculous," which is what State Farm calls Barbara Bennett's principal argument here.  The reasons include civility; the near-certainty that overstatement will only push the reader away (especially when, as here, the hyperbole begins on page one of the brief); and that, even where the record supports an extreme modifier, "the better practice is usually to lay out the facts and let the court reach its own conclusions."  ...  But here the biggest reason is more simple: the argument that State Farm derides as ridiculous is instead correct.
When selecting appellate counsel, find out about his or her style of advocacy.  Exaggeration or hyperbole can annoy the court and negatively impact your case.

Read the entire Sixth Circuit opinion here.