Hiring an Appellate Lawyer Can Help You Get the Justice You Deserve
Losing a legal case or receiving an undesirable decision can be devastating, particularly if you have already invested significant time and resources into the issue. However, in some cases, it may be worth considering an appeal. A high-quality appeals lawyer may be able to help you get a legal decision reversed in full or in part. However, there are several things you should consider before hiring an appellate attorney.
What Is the Role of an Appeals Lawyer?
An appeal lawyer helps clients who have previously lost a legal case in the trial court. These lawyers ask a higher court, called the appellate court, to review the unfavorable decision made by the trial court. The appellate court can determine whether the lower court correctly applied the law in your case. You may be familiar with a defendant appealing a criminal conviction they received from a lower court, but you can file an appeal of a decision a civil court made in your case, such as if you had a contract dispute or other serious matter involving your business and the court ruled against you.
If the appellate court dismisses the appeal or decides the lower court correctly applied the law, it will affirm the case, and the lower court's decision stands. However, suppose the appellate court decides the lower court incorrectly applied the law. In that case, the legal decision may be reversed entirely or partially, or the appellate court may remand the case back to the lower court for more proceedings.
The appellate court can come to one of several decisions:
- THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION IS AFFIRMED.
- THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION IS REVERSED ENTIRELY.
- THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION IS REVERSED IN PART.
For an appellate court to find that a trial judge was wrong on the appealed issue means the judge either misapplied the law or failed to have adequate evidence to support the lower court's decision.
5 Things to Consider When You Hire a Lawyer for the Appeals Process
When you need an appeals lawyer, quality is key. Most appeals decisions are final and binding on the lower courts, so there is little room for error. Federal appeals courts handle over 50,000 cases per year. No more than 10 percent of these cases are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and of those, the Court hears less than 100 cases per year.
When you make a legal appeal, it's best to get it right--and you should never assume a trial attorney will be effective in handling an appeal. The appellate process is far different from a trial, and an appellate lawyer can offer a fresh perspective and will be more apt to develop and present a successful appeal. A top-quality, seasoned appeals lawyer can make all the difference in your case. Here are five things to consider when hiring an attorney for the appeals process:
- YOUR APPEAL ATTORNEY'S EXPERIENCE
- SUCCESS IN APPEAL CASES
- YOUR GROUNDS FOR APPEAL
- APPEAL DEADLINES
- APPEAL COSTS
1.) Your Attorney's Experience with Appeals
As stated previously, appellate practice is different from trial law. There are marked differences in how an appeals lawyer handles an appeals case rather than a criminal case, and it takes more than a few cases to become a polished appeals lawyer. Another issue is whether the appellate attorney has ever handled cases that are similar to yours. It is essential for your appeals lawyer to be familiar with the issues surrounding your case to ensure the proper issues are identified and addressed eloquently. Even better is if your appeals lawyer has won cases involving similar issues.
2.) Success In Appeal Cases
Most appeals are not successful. So even the best appellate lawyers will lose appeals. However, it is important to analyze the type of cases the lawyer has handled on appeal along with how they create appellate briefs and develop compelling arguments. You want to ensure you choose an attorney who can devise a strong appeal and present it properly to the appeals court to increase your chances for success.
3.) Your Grounds for Appeal
Just because you aren't happy with the lower trial court ruling on your case, that does not mean you qualify for an appeal. You must have lawful grounds on which to base your appeal, and some of these grounds for appeal may include:
- YOU BELIEVE THE LOWER COURT MADE A LEGAL ERROR
- AN ERROR IN THE CASE INFLUENCED THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION
- MISCONDUCT INFLUENCED THE RULING
- ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE HAS COME TO LIGHT THAT MAY SWAY A NEW RULING
- YOU BELIEVE THE AMOUNT AWARDED TO THE OTHER PARTY WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE
4.) Appellate Court Deadlines
There are several deadlines associated with the appeals process. In Illinois courts, you must file your Notice of Appeal within 30 days of a final order by the circuit court. However, some cases may have an even shorter deadline. Due to these strict deadlines, it is crucial to hire an appeals attorney as soon as possible.
5.) Appeal Costs
Legal fees are rarely low, and the cost of making a legal appeal is no different. Multiple fees will be charged throughout the process, from the filing fee to transcripts and docketing statements. Of course, most of your appeal costs will go toward legal fees. For this reason, it is essential to carefully assess the value of your case and appropriately balance that against the cost of an excellent appeals lawyer.
What Are Your Appeals Options?
There are two types of appeals your attorney can enter. Appeals are either discretionary or "as of right."
- DISCRETIONARY APPEALS ARE TAKEN AT THE APPELLATE COURT'S DISCRETION, WHICH MEANS THEY CAN CHOOSE WHETHER TO HEAR YOUR CASE.
- "AS OF RIGHT" APPEALS MEAN THAT YOU, THE APPELLANT, ARE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO YOUR APPEAL.
Your appeals attorney will assess the appeals options for your case and discuss the options with you. Some cases may only have one viable appeal option.
Hire an Appellate Attorney for the Appeal Process
You may seek an appellate lawyer for your civil litigation matter for many reasons, from denied insurance claims to contract disputes. When you need a skilled and experienced appellant attorney to handle your business disputes, the esteemed lawyers at King and Jones can assess your case and explain the appeals process. We understand how to handle the most complex appeals cases and will fight for your appeal.
For more than 40 years now, the appellate attorneys at Contact King & Jones have successfully handled hundreds of appeals for business clients and others throughout Illinois. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get the correct ruling regarding your case and the justice you feel you deserve.