Everything You Need to Know About an Appellate Lawyer

A guide by the Levoritz Law Firm

Appeal lawyers take cases from lower trial courts and appeal or challenge those cases in higher courts such as a Court of Appeal or the New York Supreme Court. Appeals take place in state courts and federal courts. State Courts are typically divided into trial courts, Courts of Appeal, or District Courts of Appeal, Appellate Divisions, and a State Supreme Court. Federal Courts are divided between a District Court that hears trial court issues, a United States Circuit Court of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. However, New York state courts also have the 1st through 4th Appellate Division.

What is an Appeal?

An appeal is the best way for a party to challenge a decision by a lower court judge or a jury’s verdict. Requests can be made in both criminal and civil cases. The defendant may appeal both the judgment or conviction and the sentence. Occasionally, mistakes are made during the trial, so the appeal process ensures that trial court judges and juries follow the law.
An example of a civil appeal is when a party wants to challenge or overturn a judge’s decision on a matter of law or evidence. The trial court may allow evidence that should have been excluded. In that case, a person may appeal to a panel of appellate judges to review a decision.

What Does an Appeal Attorney Do?

Appeals attorneys file briefs before appellate courts such as the Appellate Division Courts, the State Supreme Courts, and the Court of Appeals to seek a review of errors taking place in a trial court. Briefs are typically divided into factual matters presented in the lower court, standards of thinking that the appellate court must use to review lower court decisions or orders, and arguments of law that analyze why a lower court decision is an error of law.
Normally, appeal lawyers may not file issues on appeal that are outside the record on appeal. In other words, appeals lawyers are often confined to the transcript of the proceedings in the court below. The record on appeal is all that can be used to file an appeal.
Appeals attorneys are prohibited from introducing new evidence on appeal or before the appeals court. So, appeal lawyers must only use facts, evidence, and matters of law presented to the trial court judge or jury to brief or file an appeal before the court of appeals.

Does my trial court lawyer need to object so I can appeal?

In most cases, a trial court lawyer must object before trial or during the attempt to preserve an issue for appeal. Here is why an objection is necessary to appeal a ruling or lower court decision to the court of appeals: Appellate court judges require a complaint to give the trial court a chance to decide a matter of law on the issue presented.
For example, a trial court lawyer may object when opposing counsel asks a leading question to a witness. Suppose the ultimate question influences the result of the trial, and an objection is made. In that case, the decision of the trial court judge to admit or deny the evidence may be appealed to a higher court panel of judges to review the conclusion of the trial court judge.

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