Rule 14 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States provides that a petition for a writ of certiorari shall begin with a statement of the “…questions presented for review, expressed concisely in relation to the circumstances of the case, without unnecessary detail … .” Rule 24 of the Supreme Court Rules provides that merits briefs shall also begin with “the questions presented for review … set out on the first page following the cover, and no other information may appear on that page… .” The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provide in Rule 28 that the appellant’s brief must include a statement of the issues presented for review. The Local Rules for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (L.A.R. 28.0) also provide that the appellant’s brief must include a statement of the issues presented for review.
Interestingly, New Jersey’s appellate rules have no requirement that there be a statement of the issues presented. We would like to propose that the rules be amended so as to require such statement in all appellate briefs. We believe that the federal rules as set forth above serve a very useful purpose—i.e., setting out for the court at the outset the precise questions that are presented.
Obviously, judges reading the briefs could determine those questions in due course. However, setting them out at the beginning would eliminate the need to search for that information, and also would remove the potential that judges would have to spend unnecessary amounts of time in parsing out those issues that were presented and those that were not. It is true that our state appellate rules require briefs to set forth whether an issue was raised below. Arguably, that requirement obviates the need that we espouse for a statement of questions presented. However, we are of the view that it would be a simple matter to incorporate such requirement, and we recommend it. It is not the most pressing issue, but an amendment to the rules might be deemed useful by the judges who have to read the briefs.