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Briefs – Argument – Must Be Supported by Authority

State v. Mary Boyer, 198 Wis. 2d 837, 543 N.W. 562 (Ct. App. 1995):

In an “argument” presented in one sentence, the defendants assert, without citation to authority, that if § 161.47, STATS., does not apply to them, “there is an equal protection under the law problem that will arise.” Arguments in appellate briefs must be supported by authority, RULE 809.19(1)(e) & (3)(a), STATS., and we need not consider arguments that do not comply, see State v. Pettit, 171 Wis. 2d 627, 646-647, 492 N.W.2d 633, 642 (Ct. App. 1992) (appellate court may decline to address issues that are inadequately briefed; arguments that are not supported by legal authority will not be considered). We thus do not address any alleged equal-protection issue.

Waiver by inadequate argumentation is (or should be) a two-way street, and for a forceful statement in holding the government’s feet to the same fire, see U.S. v. Rodriguez-Marrero, 1st Cir. No. 01-1647, 11/5/04:

This rule, though most commonly applied to defendant-appellants, may be “applie[d] with undiminished vigor when, as now, a prosecutor attempts to rely on fleeting references to unsubstantiated conclusions in lieu of structured argumentation.” Caraballo-Cruz, 52 F.3d at 393. Although in certain circumstances we have the discretion to overlook waiver by inadequate argument by the government in a criminal case, see United States v. Rose, 104 F.3d 1408, 1414 (1st Cir. 1997) (court of appeals has discretion to overlook government’s waiver of harmless error argument), it would be inappropriate in this case to make the government’s argument for it on an issue both factually and legally complex.

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