I recently came across this article “How to Appeal a Judgment without an Attorney.” Being fairly intrigued, I read the article looking for holes that I could use in writing this post. However, I must admit, it was well written and it was thorough. It began by pointing out that court decisions can be challenged through an appeal.
An appeal asks a higher court to review the lower court’s decision to determine if the judge applied the law correctly. People often refer to an appeal as one of a “technical” nature because it focuses on the law that was applied in the original trial or the evidence that was allowed (also part of the law). The article pointed out that appeals are complex and non-attorneys are given no leeway as to the procedures, form and deadlines which much be followed. But if this process can be done without paying for an attorney, why not save the money and do it yourself? Here’s what the article only mentions in passing:
Understand the requirements for an appeal
The appeals process is complicated. The deadlines are specific and the rules are not flexible. This applies to the most difficult things (the arguments) but extends down to the minute details. Even the margins and font of the brief are prescribed by the Court.
The appellant must file timely notice that s/he intends to appeal. The onus is then on the appellant to organize, and sometimes order, the transcripts. If evidence must be added to the record, which only happens in unique circumstances, it is the responsibility of the the appellant to take steps to make sure that happens. The appellant must also take steps to cause the record to be assembled and sent up to the Appeal’s Court.
Once at the Court, the appellant moves the case forward by filing his/her brief. The brief must be carefully drafted based only on the evidence and law allowed in the trial (“the record”). It is due quickly. The appendix, which submits the documents/exhibits that the appellant wants to reference, must be compiled. The argument must be tailored and concise.
The Appeals Court will not consider the decision that was made on the merits of the case. What does that mean? That means that the Court will not revisit the ultimate finding (guilty or not guilty) to determine whether the judge or jury made the correct decision. For example, if you were charged with criminal assault and battery, the Court will not allow any discussion of guilt or innocence. An appeal only reviews how the judge applied the rule or law and if that was correct.
Training is Key
Appellate law is more than just being a litigator. It’s being an excellent manager of time, a skilled writer and a lawyer versed in evidence. If any of these skills are lacking, your appeal can be denied rather than push forward.
Appeals law is unique. This is because appeals are submitted by brief and then it is up to the Court whether oral argument is assigned. A litigant may never appear before a single Justice or panel of judges. It is critical that the brief be written in good form, on point, targeted to the issues and be submitted on time. If any of those elements are missing, you may never have the opportunity to argue before the Court. This is why you really should have someone who has training, and experience, in this area of law.
If you wish to appeal a judgment on a case, do not delay. Time is important and the sooner I have the issues and the transcript from the original court case, the better prepared I can be to help you. You can reach out to me here online or call us by visiting my contact page. I have two offices to help you.