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5 Commonly Misunderstood Aspects of an Appeal

Enduring the appellate process is not always an ideal situation, as it typically signifies either an unfavorable trial court decision or the risk of losing a positive trial court result. Either way, working with an experienced Ft. Lauderdale appellate attorney is the best way to avoid the pitfalls awaiting those who are unfamiliar with Florida’s appellate laws and procedures – as they can be starkly different from the trial court experience.

The following outlines some of the more commonly-misunderstood components of an appeal, including:

#5: Importance of a Brief: Appellate practice relies heavily on top-quality legal briefing (for reasons explained in #4 below). In many instances, the quality and thoroughness of the appellate brief can make or break a case, and issues on appeal must be supported by precedential case law and a sound analytical framework. While briefing may be an important component in some trial-level cases, the skills required of an experienced and successful brief writer come to the forefront of appellate practice and are an essential component of the process.

#4: Oral Arguments: Many appellees are surprised to learn that an appellate proceeding does not involve much more than a 15- or 30-minute oral argument before a bench of jurists, many of whom may interrupt the speaker from the get-go with questions, inquiries and differing perspectives. Oftentimes, appellate attorneys are barely able to work through a fraction of their planned speech, making the appellate brief even more vital in support of the party’s positions.

#3: Limited Issues: In certain contexts (e.g., evidentiary issues), the appealing party is limited in the scope of matters he or she may raise on appeal. More specifically, if an objection was not made on the trial level, it will be too late to make the objection on appeal – primarily due to the notion that trial court judges are in a better position to rule on technical evidentiary matters given their position at the helm of the trial itself. Other matters of constitutional importance, however, may be raised on appeal in certain instances, including ineffective trial counsel or jury tampering, for example.

#2: Standards of Review: There are varying standards of review with which the appellate court must work when deciding an appeal. In some cases, the appellate court will review the matter from a fresh standpoint, not taking into consideration the trial court’s decision and/or reasoning. In other cases, the court will defer to the trial court’s findings and will not disturb the ruling absent an abuse of power or similar misconduct.

#1: No New Evidence: Unlike a trial, an appellate proceeding does not involve the introduction of any new evidence – and jurists are limited to the “paper trail” of the trial transcripts (i.e., the “record”), legal briefs and other legal filings. In the event new evidence emerges that would possibly result in a different outcome at the trial level, the likely course of action would be to motion for a new trial, which would occur on the trial level itself.

Contact an Appellate Attorney in Ft. Lauderdale Today!

If you are considering an appeal, don’t delay – there is a limited amount of time to file an appeal after the conclusion of a trial. For help with this, please contact Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. in Ft. Lauderdale today: 954-767-9662.