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Appellate FAQ

Appellate FAQ

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What Is an Appeals Attorney or Appellate Attorney?
Appeals attorneys, also known as appellate attorneys, are attorneys representing clients in legal proceedings before federal or state courts of appeals.

Should My Trial Attorney Handle My Federal Court Appeal?
Trial and appeals attorneys oftentimes possess different skill sets. Many clients are not aware of the advantages of hiring an appellate attorney and hesitate to “switch horses midstream.” Click here to learn about the advantages of hiring appellate attorneys.

Can My Trial and Appellate Attorneys Work in Different Law Firms?
Trial and appeals attorneys often work side-by-side on appeal to draft briefs, strategize about the case, and prepare for oral argument. Because appeals attorneys are typically well versed in research and writing, a common arrangement is for an appeals attorney to draft the initial brief while seeking input from trial attorneys along the way.

How Will an Appellate Attorney Get Up to Speed in My Appeal?
The appellate must argue your case based exclusively on the record from the court below. Fortunately, the case record, which must be physically filed in the court of appeals, is fixed, ascertainable, and there for all to see. Having an appellate attorney’s look at your case provides a fresh perspective of the case record may be advantageous to the client because the appellate attorney will be reviewing the same case record as the appellate judges and law clerks. Moreover, the initial brief filed in the federal court of appeals is typically not due for many months after the Notice of Appeal is filed. This will give experienced appellate attorneys plenty of time to read the case record and conduct the necessary legal research.

Should I File a Federal Court Appeal?
It depends. The decision of whether to file a federal appeal is unique to the facts and circumstances surrounding your particular case. A federal appeal may raise additional concerns that were not originally contemplated during the trial. You should contact an experienced appellate attorney to discuss your options and see if a federal appeal is in your best interest.

What Is a Federal Appeal?
A federal appeal is a legal proceeding before one of the thirteen United States Courts of Appeals.

What is an appeal filed in New York State?
In New York an appeal from a trial court judgment, whether it is criminal or civil will entail a legal proceeding in one of the intermediate appellate courts, such as the Appellate Division or the Appellate Term. The Appellate Court that your case will end up in depends which trial court you are appealing from. For example, if you are appealing from the New York State Supreme Court on either a criminal or civil case your appeal will be heard by the Appellate Division in one of the four Departments in New York. However, if you are appealing from a City Civil or Criminal Court or a District Court your appeal will be heard by the Appellate Term. In some parts of New York appeals are heard by the County Courts. You must contact an experienced appellate attorney to determine which is the right court for your appeal.

Will My Appeal Be Heard in Federal or State Court?

Generally, your appeal will be heard in a federal appeals court if it originated in a federal district court or before a federal administrative agency. There may be exceptions in certain cases, including federal criminal appeals that have been exhausted before state courts. You should contact an experienced appellate attorney to discuss your options.

Which Federal Court Will Decide My Federal Appeal?

There are thirteen United States Courts of Appeals. Eleven of the courts are numbered numerically from 1 to 11. The other two courts are the United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Federal Circuit. Click here to see a geographic breakdown of the Courts of Appeals. Keep in mind that certain appeals must be heard by certain courts. For example, the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction in disputes involving international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States, federal personnel, veterans’ benefits, and public safety officers’ benefits claims. Contact an experienced appellate attorney to determine where your federal appeal will be heard.

If I win my appeal is the case over?

Usually winning an appeal means winning a new trial. This is because the argument on an appeal is, generally speaking, that the trial was not conducted fairly for some reason. The way an appellate court remedies this is by giving you a new trial. In some rare instances you may win your case on an appeal, but keep in mind that this is very rare.

How is an appeal started or what is the first step of an appeal? The Notice Of Appeal

This is an important question because it has implications for the entire appellate process. Every appeal is started with the filing of a Notice of Appeal. The filing of this (usually) one page document is simple and at the same time extremely important.

There are strict time limits on the filing of the notice of appeal in both State and Federal courts. In Federal Court, the filing deadline will be determined by whether the proceeding is a criminal case or civil case. In either scenario the deadlines in Federal Court are very strict and an Appellate Lawyer should be consulted in advance of a plea or possible civil judgement so that the filing deadline is not missed.

The deadlines are no less strict in State Courts but applications for extending the deadlines are sometimes granted extensions depending on the reasons for the failure to file the notice of appeal.

In either case an Appellate Lawyer should be contacted ahead of time to make sure that these important deadlines are not missed because the failure to file the notice of appeal can result in the client losing the right to an appeal.

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