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The Marble Palace Blog: After 20 years, Howard Bashman is still showing how appealing the right of appeal can be

Thank you for reading The Marble Palace blog, which I hope will inform and surprise you about the Supreme Court of the United States. My name is Tony Mauro. I’ve covered the Supreme Court since 1979 and for ALM since 2000. I semi-retired in 2019, but I’m still fascinated by the high court. I will be happy to receive advice or suggestions for topics to write. You can reach me at [email protected].

In 2002, when the meaning of the word “blog” had to be explained to certain lawyers and judges, lawyer Howard Bashman started a blog called How attractive.

It was aimed, as you might guess, at the growing appellate community, including lawyers, professors, journalists, judges, and even judges.

Bashman was an appellate attorney in Pennsylvania, little known among the appeals crowd in Washington. The blog took off immediately. When I interviewed Bashman six months after the blog launched, he had received 42,000 page views within a week.

“Lawyers, court clerks and appellate judges often say their work is too mysterious to talk about with spouses and friends,” I said then. “But in Bashman’s world, they find the claim that parsing footnotes and parsing certification grants can actually be fun.”

But the blog was also important in many ways. Judges across the country would email Bashman, alerting him to a ruling that might go unnoticed for weeks or months without appeal. And even though Supreme Court justices used to say they didn’t pay attention to the news media, clerks and justices were known to glance at news stories that Bashman would link to.

In 2012, Judge Elena Kagan told the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference that she followed How Appealing, as well as the much-watched SCOTUSblog. And visitors to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.’s chambers noticed How Appealing displayed on his computer screen.

In the meantime, Bashman has opened his own solo call shop near his home. In 2012, he said the move had given him “the freedom to participate in family activities and serve as an assistant coach on my son’s baseball teams over the years”.

Today, 20 years after How Appealing was founded, Bashman is still there, though other groups like #AppellateTwitter have looked into appealing news. Bashman joined the crowd himself, often using Twitter (@howappealing) to alert the readers of his blog.

Marin Levy, professor at Duke University School of Law who sometimes teaches appellate history by Twitter, said of Bashman: “Every day, Howard provides an invaluable service to lawyers, scholars and judges. And the fact that he did this for twenty years is nothing short of amazing. Howard brings together the most important stories about our courts, in one place, for everyone to easily access. And on top of that, he amplifies those stories on social media.

We interviewed Bashman on his 20th year of How Appealing:

Do you still receive comments from judges and magistrates?

Yes, I still occasionally get comments from the judges. Also, on occasion, I will receive an email from a judge simply assuring me that I have seen a noteworthy opinion or order issued by a court.

How has Appealing been an important part of your practice?

I am fortunate as a solo appellate practitioner to have a thriving practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Pennsylvania State Courts of Appeals. And I attribute that to being well known locally as someone who does good work and gets good results. My blog has certainly allowed me to get to know and make friends with many lawyers and appellate judges from across the country, which has been a very rewarding experience.

What is your son doing 10 years later?

My son is now a law school graduate himself (NYU Law) and works as a litigator for a law firm located in Wilmington, Delaware. Now that the pandemic seems to be abating, we’re back to watching Phillies Sunday afternoon home games this season.

What do you think of #AppellateTwitter?

I think #AppellateTwitter is wonderful, although the speed at which reporters covering the appellate courts now operate makes Twitter the first place many people will learn about important new appellate court rulings rather than my blog . Some have referred to Twitter as “micro-blogging,” to refer to the character limit Twitter imposes on each tweet. This makes Twitter perhaps a harder place to discuss certain call topics in depth, meaning there’s still a role to play for the longer articles that blogs can offer.

How old are you and do you think How Appealing will continue for another decade?

I am now 57, which makes me relatively young compared to people like you and Lyle Denniston. I don’t think I’ll be blogging as long as Lyle does – since he’s still there even as I answer your question – but I also hope to continue blogging on my How Appealing blog for the foreseeable future. What’s encouraging about #AppellateTwitter is that it demonstrates that there is a growing community of appellate practitioners at all career levels, proving that the conversation the How Appealing blog has been lucky enough to participating will continue long into the future, whether at my blog or elsewhere.