Appeals and Appellate Practice

What is an Appeal?

Things do not always turn out as we expect.  Your legal matters are no different.  Whether your case involves divorce, personal injury, or criminal charges, mistakes can be made.  Those errors can be costly, and something as important as an unfair divorce decree or wrongful criminal conviction deserve a second look.  It is hard to live with an unjust ruling. This is what an appeal is for, and, in Indiana, you have an absolute right to that appeal.  

An appeal is something like instant replay in sports.  It is not a “redo.”  However, if you believe the judge made the wrong call, you might want to ask for “further review.”  Instead of asking a referee, the person taking the appeal asks the Indiana Court of Appeals (usually) or the Indiana Supreme Court (rarely) to review the decision of the local trial court.  Usually, if you are taking the appeal, you must convince the reviewing court that the trial judge was wrong about the law or misapplied the law to your case.  If the opposing side is taking the appeal, you must convince the appellate court that the trial judge got it just right.      

What is an Appellate Lawyer?

Of course, your case is more important than even the biggest game, and an appeal is much more complicated than watching a play in slow motion.  On most issues, the appellate court will assume that the trial judge was correct, so you need a lawyer to persuade the appellate court that an error was made. On the other hand, your opponent might be the one asking for a review of the tape.  If you do not respond to your opponent’s appeal, their chance of success increases dramatically.

Appellate lawyers are essentially professional writers who craft arguments for their clients.  Of course, all lawyers argue, but a trial attorney is pulled in many different directions.  Among other things, she is an investigator, a negotiator, a legal researcher, a writer, and a public speaker.  An appellate lawyer, on the other hand, focuses on only a few of these roles: researcher, writer, and speaker.     

Why Do I Need an Appellate Lawyer?

An appeal is not a do-it-yourself project.  Obviously, it would be difficult for someone untrained in the law to show the Court of Appeals that they know more about the law than the trial judge.  Your trial attorney could represent you in the appeal, but there are reasons for considering another option.  In addition to the differences discussed above, an appellate lawyer provides a fresh set of eyes.  He is experienced at spotting issues, and the appellate lawyer is likely to know more about the unique procedures used by appellate courts.    

Call Today

You need someone to make your best case, but you have already spent a fortune in the trial court. Having handled hundreds of appeals, I have learned to spot issues and craft arguments that have the best chance of success.  I have also developed a process that allows me to handle appeals more efficiently than a lawyer who handles appeals only occasionally.  The initial consultation is free, so call today to discuss whether an appeal is right for you.