When you go to court and lose your case, your options of getting the decision reversed might seem bleak, but you could have a legal option – an appeal.
Before pursuing an appeal, it’s important to know what types of cases are eligible, and what chances you have of winning your case.
Odds of a Successful Appeal
If you’re wondering how often appeals are successful, the short answer is “typically, not often.” That doesn’t mean you can’t win yours with the proper, experienced representation.
The appellate court reviews each case from the standpoint of trying to support the trial court’s judgment. To win an appeal, you must adequately demonstrate an error of law or wrongdoing committed by the court during the trial proceedings. The appellate court typically assumes judges and legal professionals follow applicable rules and laws during a case. Your appellate lawyer must prove that the court made a mistake, abused its power, or ruled contrary to all of the evidence.
Your appellate attorney can help you determine if you can show an error was made to warrant appealing your case. Appeals are costly and the result is uncertain.
During the trial court proceedings, some things may occur that can set up a successful appeal. Some examples can include the following:
- Misconduct from jurors that influenced the outcome.
- Improper jury instructions that prejudiced you.
- Improper admission of evidence that hurt your case and impacted the judgment.
- A ruling that wasn’t supported by the evidence presented during the case.
- A clear error of law by the judge.
How to Win an Appeal
Every appeal proceeds in the same way:
- First, hire an experienced appellate attorney: It’s essential to hire an attorney who specializes in appeals. He or she can determine if you have a winnable appeal. The Court of Appeal approaches its job very differently than the trial court does; therefore, it is essential that you hire someone experienced in arguing cases in the Court of Appeal. An appeal is not just a second opportunity to argue the merits of your case. You must show the Court of Appeal how the trial court erred and how it affected your case.
- Your attorney will review the trial court record: Your attorney will need to thoroughly review the record of proceedings in the trial court. This includes the documents filed with the trial court, the witnesses’ testimony, jury instructions, court rulings, and judgment.
- Your attorney will file an opening brief: Your experienced appellate attorney can prepare and file an opening brief with the court. This is essentially your written argument as to what mistake took place, and how it impacted the judgment in the case. Your attorney must identify the appropriate standard of review on appeal; that is, will the Court of Appeal defer to the trial court? Will the Court of Appeal review the issue independently?
- The respondent will file an opposing brief: The Respondent always has an advantage because the appellate court will presume that the trial court was correct.
- Your attorney will file a reply brief: After the Respondent files a brief, your attorney will be able to reply to the Respondent’s arguments.
- Oral argument: After the briefs are filed, the Court of Appeal will schedule oral argument before the three-judge panel that will decide your appeal. This is an opportunity for the justices to ask questions of the parties.
Hire an Experienced Appellate Attorney
The key to winning an appeal is to hire the right representation. Make sure you hire an experienced appellate attorney. These cases can be extremely complicated. It’s essential to have someone on your side who understands the complexities and what it takes to win an appeal.
Attorneys Noreen Evans and Deirdre Kingsbury understand the complexities of appellate law and how to write and present a persuasive appellate brief. At Evans Kingsbury LLP we are appellate lawyers with decades of experience who can take your case to the next level. Call us today at (707) 596-6090 or fill out our easy contact form to discuss your case.