You've endured months (or years) of preparation. You sat through multiple days of testimony, and waited for hours to hear the final verdict - you lost. At first, losing at trial may seem unfair and insurmountable, particularly if you had an exceptionally strong case. While many wish to give up at this point, figuring there is no hope of ever defeating the opposing party, Ft. Lauderdale appellate attorneys encourage clients not to give up, as an appeal is always an option under state or federal law.
The following provides a general overview of the state-level appeals process, as well as a brief mention of the federal process for those litigants with cases in U.S. District Court. As always, be sure to contact a skilled appellate attorney if you are in need of assistance with post-verdict relief.
One of the most important preliminary concerns with initiating an appeal is meeting the strict 30-day deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal. While appellate procedures will eventually involve the filing of briefs and petitions, the Notice of Appeal is the first official filing in the process. Failure to timely file a Notice of Appeal will in all likelihood waive the party's ability to seek review of the trial court's verdict. Absent a finding that the petitioner had good cause to miss the deadline - or was otherwise unable to make the deadline for one reason or another - the court will likely refuse to accept a late filing.
What is Appealable?
One of the most confounding facts for petitioners is the notion that appellate judges are generally limited to the goings-on at trial when deciding whether to uphold, remand or reverse the lower courts' rulings. In other words, no new evidence is presented on appeal, and judges must make their decisions based on the transcripts, court orders, parties' briefs and oral arguments.
Moreover, parties are not permitted to make new arguments on appeal that were not raised at the trial court level, and new objections to evidence are not permitted. For instance, if a criminal defendant believes certain evidence was obtained illegally - but does not raise the issue at trial - the issue is not available to litigate on appeal. By contrast, proper objections made on the record at trial will be reviewable by the appellate court for further consideration.
The Final Review
If a case makes its way to the Florida Supreme Court, the Court's final decision will be the last word on the matter - at least on the state level. In an appellate opinion, the court may uphold the lower court's findings, reverse the verdict or remand the case for further review on a particular issue or set of issues. Once the Florida high court makes its decision, the last stop for appellate review is the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepts just a small fraction of cases annually - usually those involving Circuit Court disagreement or a hot-button issue ripe for review.
Contact an Appellate Attorney Today!
If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable appellate attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Michael L. Feinstein today: (954) 767-9662.