The Impact of Government Appellate Strategies on the Development of Criminal Law

13 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2009

See all articles by F. Andrew Hessick

F. Andrew Hessick

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2009


Appellate courts are a principal source of change and growth of the criminal law. In the course of resolving disputes, appellate courts announce rules that govern future cases. For the government, seeing that these rules develop in a favorable way is often more important than the outcome in the case before the appellate court. The government is charged with protecting the public, and developing generally applicable rules of criminal law often is more important in obtaining that goal than securing the conviction of one individual. In its efforts to ensure the development of government-friendly rules, the government does not depend solely on the merits of its substantive arguments; it also uses strategies on appeal, sometimes over the course of many appeals, to nudge courts to adopt rules that are favorable to the government or to establish obstacles designed to discourage courts from adopting unfriendly rules. This Symposium Article describes some of these strategies and discusses how those strategies may affect the development of the law.

Keywords: criminal appeals, appellate strategy, litigation strategy, prosecutors, development of the law, development of criminal law

Suggested Citation

Hessick, F. Andrew, The Impact of Government Appellate Strategies on the Development of Criminal Law (October 1, 2009). Marquette Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

F. Andrew Hessick (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

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