Post-Judgment Litigation & Appeals
Civil, Family, and Criminal Defense Matters
The Nature of Appeals and Appellate Work
A trial does not automatically mean the case is over. Part or all of the trial verdict may be appealed by one or both parties. They may also seek to appeal particular parts of the lower court's processes that they feel contributed to the jury or court's incorrect judgment. An appeal is the procedure for petitioning a higher court to reconsider a judgment issued by a lower court or an administrative agency. Appellate attorneys are lawyers who assist clients in filing or defending appeals. Different kinds of appeals may arise at different stages of the litigation process. Most commonly when we think of Appeals, we imagine them following a trial. However, an appeal may arise following a judgment that is made before trial ("pre-trial"). Thus, the type of appeal being advocated for depends on the stage of litigation and whether the case is Civil or Criminal in nature, and whether the appeal is procedural or substantive.
The Evaluation Procedure
When a judgment or verdict is appealed, the appeals court (generally considered a "higher court") looks through the lower court's ruling to see if it was incorrect based on statutory law, administrative code or regulations, or previous case law (called common law). The appeals court does not retry the case or consider fresh evidence. Instead, they review the record and make a decision. Some forms of appeal allow the court wide latitude in their review, while other appeals are narrow in nature and offer only a small window to successfully appeal the judgment.
Reading a transcript, looking at bits of evidence, and going through the parties' arguments are all examples of examining the record. Furthermore, the higher court may hear oral arguments, giving them the opportunity to question the attorneys who are presenting the case.
Sometimes the grounds for appeal are self-evident. Other times, an attorney must be able to recognize concerns and assess their merits. A good appellate lawyer must be able to see flaws that might lead to an appeal. An appeals lawyer prepares the appeal and gathers the required supporting papers for the client who is filing the appeal, the format of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. They prepare and submit the relevant answer when they work for the replying party.
Examining Administrative Procedures
Not every appeal begins in a traditional lower court. Administrative hearings are where a lot of hearings and judgments from state and federal authorities take place. If you're appealing a rejection of unemployment benefits, for example, you'll most likely begin by appearing before an administrative hearing officer. A hearing on food assistance eligibility or a hearing appealing a license suspension from your state's department of motor vehicles are also examples.
In most circumstances, if you disagree with the hearing officer's judgment, you have the opportunity to file a court action to have it reviewed. The judicial branch occasionally conducts a fresh trial using this evidence. They can examine the administrative record in other situations. Both sorts of hearings are covered under appellate law.
Higher Courts have a specific Role
There are numerous reasons why appellate courts exist. For starters, legislators want individuals to have access to uniform justice across a state or country. They don't want any judge to rule like a king. When a lower court makes the wrong ruling, an appeals procedure provides a litigant a second chance, but again the higher court's scope of review depends on the type of case and the type of appeal so appeals courts aren't simply for "do-overs." The appeals process provides a motivation for trial judges to obey the law and helps set precedent for future cases.
Judges also make honest errors from time to time. These mistakes can be corrected by higher courts. Litigants thus get access to justice and a more fair and consistent rule of law when they have the opportunity to remedy mistakes. The downside is of course that appeals cost time and money.
Finally, higher courts exist to interpret laws in ways that have far-reaching consequences for society. When a court's decision affects a big portion of the population or a highly important problem affects just a few individuals, the higher courts may wish to intervene and create policy. The lower courts will thereafter be able to apply the policy in future rulings.
Why practice Appellate Law?
Appellate law is fascinating, despite the fact that it may not appear as such at first look. A good percentage of cases that proceed to appeal are quite important. They might entail an interesting legal point, the trial court's apparent prejudice, or an issue that has yet to be addressed by a state or federal court. Appellate lawyers, through persuasive arguments using existing law and the record as support, essentially possess the power to make laws through the judicial panel. Through powerful arguments, Appellate attorneys basically have the opportunity to participate in the making of history, whether for the betterment of society or for the worse. Some appellate lawyers even end up appearing before the United States Supreme Court.
Appellate Lawyers have extreme influence
Important appeals cases can have a big influence on the law in their state, or perhaps the entire country. While politicians sometimes accuse judges of legislating from the bench, judges play an essential role in assessing whether new legislation are constitutional. They must also interpret the law when a subtlety or issue in the circumstances of a case is not readily resolved by the law as written. This is because the same text can have different meanings to otherwise reasonable people.
These actions have the potential to have an immediate and long-term influence on society. Historians and politicians frequently analyze choices for years after they are made. An appellate practice is a fantastic location to make a difference for lawyers who desire to make a difference in the world.
Appellate law is for Rhetoricians and Writers
An appellate practice may be an excellent fit for attorneys who pride themselves on meticulously polishing their skills. The law of appeals provides for and necessitates extensive preparation, memorization, and a deeply intrinsic understanding of the issues at hand. An appeals lawyer may devote weeks or months to preparing a brief or perfecting an oral argument. They may prepare practice arguments, a case notebook, or anything else they think may be useful on the day of their oral argument.
A trial practice in front of a jury is not the same as having time to prepare and perfect before the big day in front of a judge or panel of judges. A client in a trial practice may require legal paperwork to be produced and submitted in a matter of minutes. A client may require a lawyer to jump up and make an argument during a trial. Trial is about strategy, whereas appeals are about application of the law to a specific case and sometimes the ripple effects a particular ruling could have on others.
Trial lawyers must be able to think quickly, as well, but their duties reside in persuading a jury panel of their peers. They must understand the fundamental rules and be able to locate them quickly. Appeals lawyers, on the other hand, have the leisure to sweat over every single detail, enabling them to create a flawless legal brief and argument.
The tenets of Appellate work are Precision and Accuracy
The appeals process is in place to ensure that justice is served in a fair and consistent way. Appellate attorneys represent their clients and the courts in order to remedy mistakes and highlight areas where laws need to be interpreted. Appellate attorneys enjoy the precision and complexity of their job, which includes both meticulously prepared legal documents and well-rehearsed oral arguments.
Now that you know the difference, you understand that appellate work is a specialty. You wouldn’t want a dentist doing brain surgery. Likewise, a trial lawyer is a very, very different breed from an Appellate attorney. Appellate work is a different specialty entirely and thus it requires a different skill set. When you need appellate work done for you, you should seek the guidance, influence and qualities of a true Appellate Attorney.
Considerations & Purpose
For Private Clients
An appeals attorney might work on behalf of a plaintiff or defendant in a civil matter. They might also work for the prosecution or district attorney in a criminal matter. On the other hand, an appellate attorney might help a criminal defendant pursue an appeal. Whether an attorney works for the person pursuing the appeal or the person who defends against it, any practice that goes about helping a party undo a lower court decision is appellate practice.
For the Courts
Appellate law isn’t always just on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants. Appeals courts and the highest courts need lawyers too. Appeals judges have clerks and other professionals that perform research and make recommendations to the judges. They streamline the process and help with administration of the courts. Working for a higher court typically involves reading submitted legal documents, creating summaries, performing research and making recommendations for judges.
Why should I retain Simon Law Group, LLC for my Appeal?
The attorneys at Simon Law Group, LLC have a long history of successfully appealing a wide variety of cases involving complex civil, criminal, and family matters. Given the nature and gravity of appellate work, it's imperative that you consult an appeals attorney who focuses extensively on appeals specifically. As we've discussed above, a trial attorney or an ordinary corporate lawyer possesses a completely different skillset than an appellate attorney. Appeals lawyers undergo extensive training through writing, re-writing, editing, reviewing, and submitting hundreds of appeals throughout their careers. Conversely, a traditional attorney might otherwise only ever file a handful of appeals -- if ever at all.
If you're pursuing an appeal or are defending yourself against one filed by your adversary, you likely understand the seriousness of an adverse decision against you by the higher court. A well-regarded Appellate lawyer knows not only the minute details of the case, but also of the statutory and common law, prior precedent, ripple effects of a specific decision by the court, and the extraordinarily complex procedural issues behind the case at hand. In short, you should not leave an appeal up to a traditional trial attorney, but should instead consult a trained and experienced appellate lawyer for any appeal of significant importance.
To schedule a free appointment with our appeals attorneys, contact us at 800-709-1131 or fill out the form below.
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Our Appellate team is capable of handling even the most complex litigation on Appeal. If you've won at trial and are defending against an adversary's appeal or if you've lost at trial, Simon Law Group, LLC has the experience and resources necessary to successfully assert and defend your rights in front of the judicial panel reviewing your case. Your consultation with our team is absolutely free and confidential.