If at first you don’t succeed… appeal.
Chances are that you are reading this because you did not get the result you were seeking from the trial court. In these situations, the appellate court is your last remaining chance for getting the ruling reversed. Appellate practice is a unique area of law that requires a skill set and knowledge that is different from those required to prepare and conduct a trial. An appeal involves different rules, tactics and courts. Many attorneys claim to have these skills, but they don’t.
The appellate process is vital to the construction and application of the law in the United States. The legislators create laws, but the constitutionality of these laws and how to implement them are determined by the appellate process.
No one knows the trial record better than the trial counsel because they lived it. While it certainly has its advantages to allow the trial attorney to handle the case through appeal it also has its disadvantages. The level of immersion in a case required of trial counsel inherently creates blind spots. It is not uncommon to see judges of the appellate courts take a completely different approach to a case than the trial attorneys for both parties. Often times the trial attorneys were so laser-focused on their own issues that they missed issues or parts of the record that the appellate court cares about. After all, a narrow street is only as wide as the person that walks down it.
We recommend that the attorney that handles your appeal be different than the attorney that tried the case. An appellate attorney takes the case with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. It is the appellate attorney’s job to view the entire case objectively and in a different light than the attorney that lived it at the trial level. In addition, sometimes it is the actions (or inactions) of your previous trial counsel that resulted in you being in a position to have to appeal. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Determining whether or not you have legitimate grounds to file an appeal is a process that takes time and effort by the appellate attorney. You want an attorney that is going to spend the time necessary to determine whether or not there are any legal issues that could be successful on appeal. Be wary of the attorney that tells you after a 30-minute consultation that you have great grounds for appeal and then asks for a retainer.
At Proper Defense, you can rest assured that we will take the time to determine whether or not you have a valid appeal within the timelines and deadlines for filing an appeal. We know how state and federal courts work and what issues are ripe for appeal. We will provide you with an honest recommendation based on our review of the trial court record. If we do not believe your case has a fighting chance of being successfully appealed we will be honest and upfront about that so that you can make an informed decision.
Should you decide to move forward with filing an appeal, we will thoroughly research all of the relevant laws in order to present the most compelling case possible. This involves spending the time necessary to fully review the trial record and draft a clear, concise and persuasive brief. Many appeals are won and lost based on the contents of the written brief. In many jurisdictions, the oral argument is merely a formality because the judges have already made up their mind before the oral argument based on the contents and quality of the written briefs. The bottom line is simple: if your brief stinks, your appeal will sink.
The above should not be taken to mean that the oral argument is not important. The oral argument is the appellate attorney’s opportunity to make sure the judges understand the legal issues by answering the Court’s questions. It is also the appellate attorney’s opportunity to show the Court that he/she has a firm and thorough understanding of the relevant case law. At Proper Defense, we know what types of oral arguments the Courts favor and how to present them. Don’t let a potential winning appeal get washed away because it wasn’t properly presented to the Court by inexperienced counsel.
In addition to handling the appeal itself, we work with trial counsel before and during the trial to preserve potential claims of error and avoid potential waiver issues. Too many times the trial counsel gets bogged down worrying about appellate issues during a trial when their focus should be the trial itself. We help alleviate this stress by handling the appellate issues before and during the trial leaving the trial counsel to focus solely on winning the case.
If you or someone you know is interested in hiring an attorney to handle your appeal, contact Proper Defense today. We offer consultations in person, by phone or video chat.