Anyone who has ever been involved in a criminal or civil case or ever served on a jury for one of these trials knows that it can be a lengthy process to go through. Imagine what is like for the party that finds themselves having a judgment entered against them, especially if they believe that it was wrong to do so. The next step for them is the appeals process, one that can be even longer than the original trial. What we will cover here is an example of the process, by outlining how to file an appeal.
Finding Grounds for Appeal
Even before knowing how to file an appeal anywhere, it is important to understand what is required by law to begin the appeals process. For any defense lawyer or criminal defense lawyer to file an appeal letter to the appellate court, there must have been something in the previous trial to warrant it. This means that a mistake of some kind had to have been made, on either side, which violated the rights of the person who had the negative judgment filed against them appeal attorneys.
These grounds for appeal can take any form, but there must be something in the court transcript, a violation of a legal process that if it had not occurred, might have caused a different judgment to be rendered. This could take the form of a witness who lied on the stand during testimony, a lack of evidence linking the defendant to the crime or even an ethics violation based on the actions of a lawyer involved in the case. Once evidence can be found, then a letter of appeal can be filed.
The Next Step
The appeal letter, along with the evidence collected supporting it, must then be sent to the appellate court that has jurisdiction over the court where the case was originally tried. The appeals process will take place in a different court, called an appellate court and will be heard by a completely different judge from the one that ruled on the original case. There are different levels of appellate courts in some states. In some states it will go to the District Courts of Appeal first and must be filed within thirty days of the original judgment.
Once the appeal has been filed with the appropriate court and accepted, it will be scheduled for a new hearing if it is deemed appropriate to do so.
More often than not, a panel of judges is selected to go over the filed briefs and decide whether they need to hear from either party or their lawyers. This process is different from the original trial and they will not be reviewing the same materials but rather are looking to see if the law as it was applied in the original case was valid, and whether the outcome would have changed under different circumstances. If they have questions, then they will schedule testimony to support or deny the appeal.
Because the appeals process is mostly a close review of the original trial and how what happened during it can be viewed under existing laws, it can be a really long and drawn out process. Defendants awaiting a reversal of judgment can wait a year or longer, at times without success. The final ruling by appellate court judges can be one of three things: a complete reversal of the original judgment, a modification of the judgment, or they can decide to leave it as it stands. By understanding how to file an appeal, and how the process works, you now know what your lawyer will go through and why it takes so very long to make sure that all of your rights are protected.