If you’re currently in a situation wherein scouting for a federal appeals attorney is the next step for you to take, here’s what you need to know about federal appeals in general. Alongside this are facts that you should take into account as an appellant.
An Overview Of Federal Appeals
When a case has been decided upon, the “losing party”, by law, is eligible to bring the same case up to the federal court of appeals. The appellant can “appeal” for a re-review of the case. In simpler terms, they have the right to make a request to a higher court for a reversal of the supposed decision made upon the case.
Federal Appeals FAQs
1. Federal Appeals Are Final
Once the case reaches the court of appeals, the decision which will result from their brief will be final (as they most often than not are). The only time that it won’t be is if the higher court will route the case to return to the trial courts. In this situation, a review by the United States’ supreme court will be warranted and will be followed up with additional proceedings.
This may also mean that the case will be reviewed by a number (or frequently, all) of the judges who belong to the court of appeals.
2. Oral Argument
Insist that your case be argued orally, meaning your representative will have to be present at the court. The fact remains that a majority of federal appeals are decided on the briefs, and without the in-person presence of the appellate’s attorney. And the hard truth also is that these are, when without representation, are then forwarded only through email. Or worse, snail mail.
For this reason, talk to your appellate lawyer or federal appeals attorney to make a way so that they are able to argue your case face to face with the judges. This may not be what’s generally followed in terms of protocol. Nonetheless, there’s no sanction against it and is encouraged, especially if your position is one that’s strong and backed by evidence.
In fact, it may be a pivotal turning point as your lawyer’s oral argument may be able to persuade them, so much so that it could lead to the overturning of the conviction.
3. Details Are Crucial
We cannot overstate this non-rule, but failure to comply with the details you are asked to follow regarding briefs and other technical requirements will merely delay, or ultimately, impede your chance at a proper appeal.
It’s important to remember that judges take such details with much seriousness. There have been numerous occasions wherein briefs were returned because of the wrong file cover, typos, you name it.
Why the need for such attention to detail? Beyond the fact that law clerks have to go through briefs (not just yours, but hundreds of others) each day and come across corrections, it’s basically for your own good. Any mistake in technicalities may cost you an overturned conviction. So, don’t take this step lightly.
4. It Takes Time
Here’s another reality to be aware of— federal appeals rarely take the short route. They always go through months, to at least a year before a decision is finalized. Others, even more than 12 months. Not only is the process tediously slow, but that the court of appeals is always very overcrowded.
Although the advancement of technology has helped ease and quicken some procedures (electronic briefs are now acceptable), cases come pouring in at any given time, along with yours. Just be patient, and make sure to constantly ask your representative for updates.