Anyone who goes to court hopes for a favorable decision that puts their legal controversy behind them. However, a trial judgment is not necessarily the end of a case. Part of due process is the limited right to appeal a judge’s adverse rulings. If you lose because a judicial ruling tilted the case in favor of your opponent, you may be able to appeal that ruling to a higher court. Of course, appeals are a double-edged sword; if you win the case, your opponent might file an appeal, and you would be forced to defend the ruling at the appellate level. At Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP, we manage appeals in the state and federal court systems all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. If we have represented you at trial, we can seamlessly move to the appeal process, saving you time and expense. If you retain us after a trial, you can trust our ability to get quickly up to speed with all material issues and put forth a compelling argument for the relief you seek.
Appeals are not automatic, and the scope of what can be appealed is limited. A party cannot appeal a finding of fact, only a judge’s ruling on the law or the rules of procedure. For example, if a judge excluded certain evidence as prejudicial to the case, the party who wanted the evidence admitted could appeal the decision. A trial attorney must raise the issue at trial to preserve the right of appeal for the client.
Most civil litigation appeals follow a final judgment. Interlocutory appeals — those that suspend the trial until a higher court rules on a question — are rare but possible in extraordinary circumstances, where the case cannot be fairly decided until a higher court decides the matter.
In the Texas state court system, trials take place in the state court of the various districts. There are two levels of appeal, first to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court of Texas. In the federal system, trials take place in the U.S. District Courts. There are four federal districts in Texas: North, South, East and West. Appeals from these courts go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Parties wishing to appeal a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Texas must file for certiorari by the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS is not obligated to take any case and only grants certiorari if the case involves important legal issues, such as a federal constitutional issue, conflicts between state and federal law, or a conflict in the rulings of various circuit courts.
In appellate practice, there is no substitute for an attorney’s experience. Appeals start with the filing of a brief that lays out the argument, based on court precedent. There is both art and science to writing an effective brief. The next step is to appear before a panel of judges, present a concise and compelling argument, and answer impromptu questions in a convincing manner. When you retain our firm for your appeal, you get the skill, knowledge and experience necessary to succeed at any level.
Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP has an active and experienced appellate division and has represented clients at every state and federal level up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States. If you need appellate representation, call us at 940-230-2386 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We have four offices, located in Denton, Flower Mound, Gainesville and Celina.
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