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‘This Court respectfully requests that the instant appeal be denied’

Reading a Pennsylvania trial court opinion, I saw the following sentence at the end.

This Court respectfully requests that the instant appeal be denied for the following reasons:

That’s an odd locution — lawyers often “respectfully request” some result from a court, but I’d never before noticed a court respectfully requesting such a result from a reviewing court. But that’s apparently getting common in Pennsylvania courts, according to a Pennsylvania-based appellate lawyer I know:

[I]n Pennsylvania state court the practice has arisen whereby there is generally no requirement that an opinion accompany an appealable order.

However, because appellate review is difficult if not impossible in the absence of a trial court’s opinion, under Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(b), if the trial judge believes that an explanation of the basis for the trial court’s ruling being challenged on appeal does not already exist of record, the trial judge can require the appellant(s) to file a “statement of errors complained of on appeal.” Then, after receiving that statement, the trial judge is expected to issue an opinion under neighboring Rule 1925(a) addressing the issues that the party taking the appeal intends to raise on appeal….

[As a result,] many Pennsylvania state court trial judges have decided to follow … [the] practice of concluding their Pa. R. App. P. 1925(a) opinion by either requesting that the judge’s order be affirmed or the appeal denied, etc.

I found this interesting, so I thought I’d pass it along to our lawyer readers who might view it the same way. I leave it to you to opine on whether this is a good development, or whether asking for a particular result should be left to litigants, not judges.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

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