Over the past couple of months I’ve received several reader e-mails asking about the blogs I follow to stay on top of the latest news and trends in appellate litigation. While I subscribe to dozens of excellent law blogs (I cannot bring myself to refer to them as "blawgs") that deliver an endless stream of new content to my Google Reader account, Howard Bashman’s How Appealing stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Earlier this month, How Appealing celebrated its tenth birth day. This is truly an impressive feat given the high number of abandoned law blogs that populate the digital junkyard. Even more impressive, however, is the consistency with which Howard has updated “[t]he Web’s first blog devoted to appellate litigation” with top-notch content over the past decade. Oh, and did I mention he does all of this on top of running his law practice?
For more on Howard's impressive story, here is a brief excerpt from an interview conducted by Tony Mauro, which appeared in yesterday’s National Law Journal:
Question: What impact do you think you have had on increasing the awareness of the public and the legal world about appellate courts and jurisprudence?
Bashman: It is difficult for me to assess How Appealing's impact, although the site's hit counter now reflects over 20 million page views. But here are two quick anecdotes that may give you some measure.
First, when I started the blog, the number one response for a Google search of the words "How Appealing" was a web site selling lingerie. Now the top response is my appellate law blog. Whether this represents progress is for others to decide.
Second, on one day when my blog was still in its relative infancy, I posted about a 6th Circuit ruling that had rejected a pro se litigant's claim that the Constitution should entitle him to use the public library in bare feet, because he disliked shoes. I titled my post "No shirt, no shoes, no literature." I refrained, however, from disparaging what many might characterize as a frivolous lawsuit. Within an hour or two, I received an email from the pro se litigant in that case sending me a link to his web site, where readers of my blog could access the briefs filed in the case. That experience confirmed that there's no way to know who is reading the site, and therefore I should continue to refrain from any gratuitous, mean-spirited comments about litigants, courts, or court rulings.
Question: What feedback do you get from appellate judges, including Supreme Court justices? Are you surprised that when you point out an error or typo in a ruling, it gets fixed almost instantly?
Bashman: Once I was attending a Supreme Court-related book launch party in Washington, D.C., when I literally bumped into Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. He promptly asked me who would be updating my blog if I was away attending this event. I have received a great deal of favorable feedback from appellate judges, who usually begin by asking me how I manage to keep the blog going while maintaining a busy appellate practice. Although I rarely respond this way, my thoughts usually go back to the saying that if you want to get something done, give it to someone who is busy.
Occasionally readers will draw humorous typos to my attention in judicial decisions, and sometimes I will post about them on my blog. Lately, courts have become so quick to remove those mistakes that I must now save a copy of the original ruling so that I can post the original online myself once the mistake is fixed in the online version of the official ruling. One of my favorite typos involved attorney Carter Phillips being identified as counsel for "petitionerd" by the U.S. Supreme Court in a hearing list that included a case that he was arguing on behalf of eBay. I am sure that using the word "nerd" in a case involving both Carter Phillips and online technology was entirely accidental! But it was rather funny nonetheless.
I would encourage readers to read the entire article here.