Appeals are very different than trials.

Some excellent trial lawyers have never handled an appeal. The job of a trial attorney and that of an appellate attorney are very different. Trial attorneys try to persuade a fact finder, which is usually a jury. To accomplish this, a trial attorney shares the facts of the situation, in the light most favorable to the Client through witnesses, documents, and physical evidence. Appellate attorneys try to persuade appellate judges that the trial court made legally reversible errors. Trial attorneys present a factual case in a legal context, and appellate attorneys present a legal case in a factual context.

To prepare a case for trial, attorneys file pleadings and motions, conduct investigation, complete discovery and depositions, prepare witness, and much more. To prepare a case for appeal, attorneys must read every word of the file, must read every word of the trial transcript, be creative in identifying and framing legal issues for appeal, must write, re-write, and re-re-write a compelling appellate brief, must craft point headings that capture the reader, and must present a succinct oral argument in 20 or 30 minutes to as few as three judges and as many as nine. That is very different than conducting a trial.

Appellate judges do not care who is right or wrong. Appellate courts defer to the fact finding made by a judge or jury. If the fact finder reached its result in a legally correct context, the appellate court will affirm. If, on the other hand, the trial court made legally incorrect rulings, the appellate court loses faith in the verdict and starts all over again. Appellate courts presume that trial courts were correct, and appellate counsel has the burden of meticulously exploring the transcript and trial rulings to find the winning appellate argument.

If you would like to consult with us about your appeal, please call us.