Fighting for justice in criminal, juvenile, and civil commitment appeals.

Brief-Writing Lessons From the January 6 Committee Hearings

The first three public hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol provide some helpful lessons for clarity and persuasion in presenting a complicated story.

By J. Bradley O’Connell


Panel Alerts

June 23, 2022

Tools for Addressing Delayed Records on Appeal

In many Contra Costa County felony cases, records on appeal are delayed or late. This is also true for some cases… more

June 10, 2022

Covid-19 Interim Claims Policy Extended Through December 31, 2022

In this time of delayed records and fewer new appeals, the appellate projects and the Judicial Council agreed on procedures… more


First District Panel Victories

June 2, 2022


Panel Attorney: S. Lynne Klein

The Court of Appeal found the Agency failed to satisfy its inquiry and notice obligations under the ICWA and related California law. The Agency was informed that the maternal grandmother had Native American ancestry, but made no effort to investigate family members. Notice to the tribes was also incomplete. The “affirmative duty to gather relevant information…is critical to ensure that the notice requirements are satisfied in a meaningful way.” Pursuant to “established appellate practice,” the order terminating parental rights was conditionally reversed and remanded to  ensure compliance with the ICWA.


Mat Zwerling – in memoriam

Matthew (Mat) Zwerling, co-founder of the First District Appellate Project (FDAP) and Executive Director for many years, passed away on March 24, 2022, after a long illness. We are saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, and take this time to reflect on Mat’s life and the difference he made in the lives of so many. Mat was a mensch, a mentor, an activist, and a man of many and varied interests and talents.

Please visit our remembrance page and join us in celebrating Mat's life

Pathways to an Appellate Practice

Interested in becoming an appellate attorney? Visit our Pathways to an Appellate Practice section for details on

  • becoming a panel attorney;
  • FDAP’s Associate Staff Attorney Program; and
  • law student opportunities.