If you lost your case at trial, should you file an appeal? Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer and you don't have much time to make up your mind. But, if the stakes are high enough, it is worthwhile speak with an appellate lawyer to find out if you may have grounds to seek judicial review.
In both the state and federal systems, trial courts' decisions are subject to appeal. However, there are only certain, limited grounds on which litigants can seek review; and, as many people are surprised to learn, the appellate process is very different from what you experienced during your trial. If you are considering speaking with an appellate lawyer, here are three thoughts to keep in mind:
Should I Hire a Different Lawyer for My Appeal?
In many cases, it makes sense to hire a new attorney for your appeal. Appeals are very different from trials, and some trial lawyers simply do not have the skill set or the experience needed to take a case through the appellate process.
Contrary to popular belief, an appeal is not a "redo" of the trial. You do not get to present new evidence, and you do not get to present new legal theories to try to change the judge's mind. Instead, an appeal involves conducting in-depth legal research in order to develop legal arguments about why the errors that occurred during your trial justify a reversal. Your appellate lawyer must then convincingly relay these arguments in written briefs and in oral arguments presented to a panel of judges.
Some lawyers (such as the lawyers at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.) handle both trials and appeals, and using the same lawyer for your appeal can often be more cost-effective since you don't need to get a new attorney up to speed. However, this should not be the sole basis for your decision, and in some cases the issues to be raised on appeal will necessitate hiring a new appellate attorney.
How Long Do I Have to Make Up My Mind?
In Florida, you only have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. If you miss this deadline, in the vast majority of circumstances you will be barred from asking the appellate court to review your case. The good news is that the Notice of Appeal itself is not a particularly intensive document. However, you will want to have thoroughly evaluated your options before you file (or choose not to file), and as a result it is extremely important to schedule a consultation with an appellate attorney as soon as possible.
What Are Some Potential Grounds for Filing an Appeal?
In most cases, civil appeals center around mistakes that the trial judge made during the course of the trial proceedings. Some of the more-common examples include admitting inadmissible evidence, providing improper jury instructions and misinterpreting the law. However, there are a number of other potential grounds to file an appeal, and the grounds that you may have available will depend heavily on the unique facts and circumstances involved in your case.
Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. | Fort Lauderdale Appellate Attorneys
If you are considering an appeal - or if you won at trial and the other party is seeking to appeal the outcome of your case - we invite you to give us a call. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling appellate matters at all levels in Florida's state and federal courts. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call (954) 767-9662 now.