“The first task of an appellant is to explain to us why the district court’s decision was wrong.”
So begin’s today’s opinion in Nixon v. City and County of Denver, in which the Tenth Circuit again had the unfortunate task of explaining how not to handle an appeal. (For an earlier lesson along these lines, see last month’s post on this case).
Ricky Nixon was a Denver police officer who was accused of using excessive force, and fired for allegedly lying about the incident. Nixon sued, claiming among other things that his firing was in retaliation for his decision to speak out on other matters of public concern, but the district court dismissed his claims.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed because Nixon’s lawyer apparently failed to address the district court’s reasons for dismissing his client’s claims.
As Judge Hartz explained, “It is unfortunately commonplace that an issue on appeal is waived because it is not adequately developed in a party’s brief. This, however, is a (fortunately rare) case in which no pertinent issue is adequately developed.”
I expect that the lawyer’s discussion with the client about this result won’t be a pleasant one.