Why would your trial attorney advise you to hire an appeals attorney to come along with you to trial? Surely he or she doesn't expect you to lose, right? Is this just overkill?
No, and no. Your trial attorney may think you have a great case or a weak case, but either way, your attorney is going to tell you what he or she expects to happen. Your case may even be wildly up in the air. However, losing is always a possibility, and there's a world of difference between trial law and appellate law. It helps to understand the differences in order to understand why your trial attorney might want an appellate attorney on your team from the start.
1. An appellate attorney can help preserve issues for appeal. If you've ever watched a big trial unfold on TV, you've probably heard an attorney object to something during the trial. Sometimes, the objections are fiercely argued and the whole court comes to a standstill while the judge confers with the attorneys or sends the jury out in order to hear arguments on the objection. Most of the time, however, the objections are quick, quietly spoken, and just as quickly denied. That's all done because the attorney making the objection is keeping an eye on a possible appeal. By making the objection, he or she keeps the issue open or "preserved" for appeal. It's hard for a trial attorney to both focus on your current trial and keep in mind all appeal issues at the same time.
2. One thing you may have noticed is that when appeals courts make decisions it can send big shockwaves through the legal community and create a lot of legal changes in how cases are handled or decided. For example, most people don't think of it this way, but the Supreme Court is the biggest appeals court in the country -- all of its decisions flow back down into every court in the land. While most appeals courts don't have quite that dramatic of an effect, they are conscious of how lower courts will be affected by any ruling. Your appellate attorney is aware of this and tailors his or her arguments to make it clear that ruling your way would be beneficial somehow to others as well -- and not burdensome on the lower courts or potentially harmful. By witnessing the issue for himself or herself, the appellate attorney is already primed to make a better argument on your behalf.
3. Your appeal is going to be won with words on paper and a very brief argument. There's no retrying of your case and -- except in rare instances -- no introduction of any facts not already in evidence. The appellate attorney is aware that facts get argued in trial court but that law and policy are the bread and butter of the appeals court.
4. If you do lose your case, you have a very narrow window in which to file an appeal. If you miss it, there are no second chances. Leniency is not a word familiar to appellate courts. There are deadlines, notices, transcripts that have to be filed on time -- when they aren't, you can find yourself out of court and starting over. Having an appellate attorney on the case preparing the arguments as the case proceeds is hugely beneficial given the time constraints involved.
If your trial attorney is recommending an appellate attorney for your trial team, listen carefully to his or her advice. It's better to be prepared and not need the appeal than it is to have to struggle to find the right appellate attorney for your case if you do lose -- especially if it turns out that you missed a chance to preserve your best issue for appeal. Check out law practices' websites like http://www.pedersonlawrc.com for more information.Share