Matthew Stiegler Profile picture
Third Circuit nerd, advisor to the Philadelphia DA. Views here: just mine.
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Apr 11, 2023 21 tweets 4 min read
I'm reading @mkonnikova's book The Biggest Bluff. In it, she makes a point about the value of early losing, and it has me thinking about how it applies to appellate lawyering. A little 🧵… Konnikova is a psychologist who studied under the marshmallow experiment guy. She knew zip about poker, but from von Neumann she got the idea that poker's a good way to understand decisionmaking. So she got a top poker pro, @Erik_Seidel, to mentor her. /2…
Oct 9, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
We don’t know yet if Judge Pryor made an unknowing blunder or a knowing choice. If the former, he should fix it forthrightly and apologize to the public and the judiciary. If the latter, he should resign. District Judge Corey Maze NDAL, too.…
Sep 10, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
When Trump nominated James Ho to the 5th Circuit, a remarkable thing happened. To simplify only a little, all the civil rights groups expressed deep concerns, while all the lawyers said he'd be a splendid judge.

If we don't learn anything from that, heaven help us. Let me show you what I mean. /2
Apr 14, 2021 9 tweets 3 min read
As a young appellate lawyer, I got the idea that one must keep one's hands on the lectern during oral arguments.

I don't remember where I got that idea, but it's fairly common advice. The idea is that OA is formal and gesturing is too casual and can be distracting. 1/ Hands dutifully on podium, my next argument or two stunk.

I'd be at the lectern giving my argument, and the voice in my head listening to myself was shouting, "hey idiot, stop the deadly monotone!" and I couldn't. I had no idea why. Nerves? It was strange and unsettling. 2/
Mar 8, 2021 10 tweets 2 min read
1. Progressives are waking up to the importance of younger nominees for federal judges.

But one reason why it's so important hasn't gotten enough attention yet: circuit chief judgeships. 2. Circuit chief judges wield real power. Their control of opinion assignments and administrative control make them the most powerful non-Scotus federal judges. (@marinklevy and Judge Newman have an article on the way in @PennLRev on the office of the chief judge.)
Feb 23, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
1. Some legal-writing advice meant esp for first-gen law students.

College taught me that the key to good writing was originality. 1L-year exams taught me that sounding like a lawyer was about spotting every issue.

To become a good legal writer, I had to unlearn both lessons. 2. Good legal writing isn't about coming up with clever new ideas or expressing them in a unique new way. And it's nothing at all like an issue-spotting final exam.

Good legal writing is about clarity.
Feb 22, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
Two maps of Philadelphia that made my head detonate.

On the left, covid vaccination rates. On the right, poverty rates. ImageImage One graph of Philadelphia that made my detonated head detonate again. Image
Jan 25, 2021 9 tweets 2 min read
When McConnell does things like demand Ds honor R circuit blue slips in 2009 or demand Ds honor R filibusters in 2021, despite not doing those things for Ds when he was in power, the problem isn't hypocrisy. It's worse.… McConnell isn't failing to honor his own principles. McConnell's only guiding principle is "If the rules don't prevent it and it adds to GOP power, we'll do it." He's quite consistent about following it.
Jan 20, 2021 11 tweets 2 min read
A strong opinion that many of my fellow progressives may strongly disagree with: Biden should put Orin Kerr, a fairly conservative Republican, on the Ninth Circuit. Look, I anticipate spending the next 4 years mad at the Biden admin for being too timid with judicial nominations. I firmly believe Biden needs to play by the new rules, not the old ones. The days of Ds slowly nominating a bunch of mid-50s moderate prosecutors are over.
Jan 9, 2021 13 tweets 3 min read
There's growing willingness to acknowledge the ways in which Trump's work of building and clinging to power resemble Hitler's. Good.

But this week the history that keeps flashing in my mind isn't Nazi Germany, it's pre-WWII Japan's May 15 Incident.

A thread. 1/ Japan after WWI was a two-party parliamentary constitutional democracy. The government functioned reasonably well into the 30s, weathering the depression better than its peers in the US and Europe. 2/
Jan 8, 2021 40 tweets 9 min read









not the middle of next week

Jan 6, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
18 USC 2384 - Seditious conspiracy

"If two or more persons ... conspire

to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States


to levy war against them


... ... to oppose by force the authority thereof,


by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States,


by force to seize, take, possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof ...
Dec 13, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
An unexplained, unsigned Friday-evening miscellaneous order is not how the Supreme Court of the United States speaks effectively to the American public at historic moments.

Look, I wish it was too. It isn't. Well-intentioned, smart people are framing the Supreme Court's order as blunt, emphatic, powerful, a devastating back of the hand. And obviously we're all safer if people buy it. But it ain't reality.
Dec 12, 2020 13 tweets 3 min read
My reading of Justice Alito's statement for himself & Justice Thomas seems to be a minority view, but I disagree, at least tentatively, w those who think the Court's ruling was really a 9-0 defeat for Trump & that Alito was saying he'd reject the suit. 1/
The order stated that the Court denied for lack of standing Texas's motion for leave to file the suit.

Alito w Thomas made a "Statement" which said that in his view, the Court doesn't have discretion to deny leave to file this kind of suit. So, they disagreed w the Court. 2/
Dec 11, 2020 9 tweets 2 min read
The game is changing. What's unfolding right now in the Texas v. Pa. case in the Supreme Court, in my view, is significantly different than what came before.

Republican politicians have launched a sneak attack on democracy. It's alarming. Even as recently as a day or two ago, most informed observers viewed the Texas case as a bad joke, evil but harmless. Texas's initial filing was so embarrassing their own solicitor general didn't sign it. Trump's motion to intervene by John Eastman may have been even lamer.
Dec 7, 2020 8 tweets 2 min read
Hey #appellatetwitter, good typography takes some work, but avoiding bad typography is not hard.

You can achieve competent typography for your legal writing if you just get five basics right. 1. Use normal capitalization for all argument headings & subheads.

NOT ALL CAPS and definitely Not Title Caps. Use all caps only for section headings, like SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT.

Capitalizing headings is the most common typography blunder that good lawyers make. Still a blunder.
Nov 28, 2020 53 tweets 10 min read
Our darkest time has been his finest hour.

The Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, D. Brooks Smith, is one of the heroes of this horrible year. That is both deeply ironic and squarely in character.

(A very, very long thread.) 1/ Circuit judges wield real power, but they do so almost entirely out of the public eye. They’re not on TV shouting over the host, or even on twitter hurling zingers. 2/
Nov 27, 2020 20 tweets 5 min read
Opinion Just issued the CA3 Trump case. Bibas with Smith and Chagares. Affirmed. Trump loses. Resoundingly.
Nov 27, 2020 4 tweets 2 min read
6 good books for appellate lawyers:

- Winning Brief, Garner
- Supreme Court & Appellate Advocacy, Frederick
- Sense of Structure, Gopen
- Dreyer's English
- Storycraft, Hart
- Typography for Lawyers, Butterick

If you're in CA3, then PBI's Appellate Practice Manual, too. For me, @BryanAGarner's Winning Brief was the gateway drug, the book that first made me realize how oh-so much I still had to learn about effective writing. And all these years later it's still my answer to "what 1 book should I get first?"
Nov 25, 2020 9 tweets 6 min read
We filed our amicus brief last night! Click through for a link to it if you're interested in reading it. It's a brief on behalf of 5 top legal scholars explaining why Trump's appeal should be dismissed due to the bananas remedy he's seeking. Like @hannnahmmarie, I'm tremendously proud to have been part of this team effort. What a privilege to have my name on a brief for heroes of mine like @LeahLitman, @marinklevy, @RickSwedloff, Erwin Chemerinsky, and Portia Pedro.
Nov 24, 2020 9 tweets 2 min read
I haven't been posting today about the big Trump campaign Third Circuit appeal, I've been busy working on an amicus brief a group of us are readying to file in the case. More on that once we file. In the meantime, parties Trump's suing—the Pa. Secretary of State and a slew of county election boards—filed their briefs this afternoon. I expect other amicus briefs (friend of the court briefs, offered to help the court decide the appeal) to continue coming in.