Working appeals involves different skills and strategic considerations than trial practice. When a case is on appeal, the focus shifts from developing and proving facts (through discovery, examining witnesses, and trial) to the legal issues that decide the case. Effective appeals demand a formulation of the issues that is focused on what is important to a panel of appellate judges deciding the case.
In formulating the issues on appeal, a lawyer experienced with appeals conducts thorough legal research; analyzes the legal issues in light of the rule-making and policy considerations that shape the development of law; and then presents the facts and those issues and arguments selected for appeal concisely in a persuasive appellate brief.
The importance of a well-crafted appellate brief cannot be exaggerated. Appellate briefs receive greater judicial scrutiny than written materials prepared at trial because they are reviewed by a panel of judges, rather than a single judge, along with those judges’ larger legal staff, under comparatively less time pressure than exists in the trial court.
After the appellate briefing, oral argument is an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the appellate judges regarding the issues in the case. To be effective, appellate oral advocacy must be keyed to the unique concerns of the appellate forum – avoiding emotional or fact-based pleas that may play well before a jury, but instead focusing on the dispositive legal issues, being sure to answer the judges’ questions.
In addition to the practice in the appellate courts, appellate lawyers play important roles in the trial courts. Appellate lawyers collaborate with trial counsel on strategic and tactical matters to raise all applicable arguments and make the appropriate trial record, identifying and preserving legal issues as they arise and crafting effective motions on substantive legal issues – before, during, and after trial.
Involving a lawyer with experience with appellate law in a case as early as possible is important to ensure the best chance of success both at trial and on appeal.
How Can We Help !
- If you have been convicted of a crime, you have a number of options to seek relief from our criminal justice system. We are experts and can handle your appeal in the court of appeals. Contact the lawyers at Pappas & Russell for a free consultation today.