When you make an appeal, you are requesting that a more powerful court will review the decision made by a lower court. Your goal is to have the decision overturned or altered. Appeals lawyers specifically train to help clients with the appeals process so that they have a higher chance of success. Both civil and criminal cases might be appealed, though the process for each is different.
During an Appeals Division hearing, the attorneys making up the division will present evidence before a judge. The hearings are the best chance to explain your case. If you’ve already had a civil or criminal judgment made against you, it’s vital that you get an attorney who can handle the process. You don’t want to represent yourself. No matter how smart you are, it’s difficult to understand the complicated ways that the Appeals Division and appellate process work.
Appellate courts do not conduct trials. There is a rule in the US Constitution stating that people cannot be tried for the same crime twice. Instead, the court simply looks at the records that have already been established. No new evidence can be introduced, and the lawyer cannot introduce new facts to the case.
Appeals aren’t particularly exciting, as they mostly involve a lot of paperwork. The majority of the process involves writing a brief that explains the exact legal justification the lawyer has for wanting the decision overturned. They will need to cite every fact that they present exhaustively. Appellate briefs are often long enough to look similar to books.
There is a specific process to writing a brief that can only be replicated by someone with experience. You have to cite specific sources, format the brief in a specific way, and present your arguments cohesively enough that they can’t be refuted. It takes hours to put together an effective appellate brief, even when you have an entire career of experience already.
The appeals court usually uses the written briefs and the trial records alone to make a decision. But in some cases, they might have a hearing as well. Again, the hearing is not a chance to present new evidence. But it might be a chance to explain your case and to understand the judgment of the appellate courts.
A lawyer who represents you will explain how there were errors made during the trial. They will make a case that there was an imperfect ruling due to issues with the trial process itself. In most cases, rather than making a case that the sentence was undeserved, the lawyer is simply trying to prove that there were technical issues at fault with the proceedings.
When you talk to an appeals lawyer, you’ll want to have several documents for them to peruse. Most importantly, you’ll need to show them the judgment of the court. Whether it’s a civil or criminal matter, the judgment will explain the sentencing and why that action is being taken. Your lawyer will investigate to make sure that the judgment itself complies with all court procedures, as well as making sure that it can be appealed in the first place.
Their next step will be to examine the court transcripts along with whatever evidence was presented during the trial. They will use this information to determine whether they can appeal the issue based on technical errors. If the original judge made an error due to improper court procedures, the lawyer can appeal to have it corrected.
Keep in mind that your appeal is not a second trial. It doesn’t matter what mistakes the original attorney you had might have made. Your appeals attorney isn’t trying to argue your entire case again. All they can do is look at the case that already happened, rather than creating a new defense strategy.
Even if you could have won your case with a better defense, the appeals court won’t look at any evidence or argument that wasn’t in the original proceeding.
In some rarer cases, you might want to get an appeals lawyer even if you won the case. Your opponent in a civil judgment might file their own appeal because they’re unhappy about the outcome. If a lawyer represents you in a case that you won, their job will be to show the appeals court that the court ruling was correct instead of incorrect.
Your lawyer will have a chance to be part of the appeals process after your opponent files their appeal. They will be able to look at the appeal and refute the brief with their own document. Like the usual appeals process, this involves a lot of writing rather than litigating in a courtroom. It’s something that should be taken on by a professional.