Appellate Practice

To say that the practice of “appellate” law is a “specialty” is accurate but, at the same time, is far too limiting a notion.  It involves anything but a specialized area of the law.  In fact, the contrary is true, as it involves every area of the law.  Appellate practice is as wide-ranging as the practice of law itself, and potentially involves literally all areas of substantive law ranging from A to Z (admiralty to zoning).  Litigation is designed to proceed at a particular pace, and then to get resolved at some point.  So things will always happen in a trial court, whether it is discrete rulings made by the judge throughout the course of litigation, during pre-trial proceedings, during trial, post-trial, and even in the course of a settlement process. There might be a dismissal of one, some, or all counts alleged in a lawsuit, partial summary judgment or full summary judgment might be entered, a directed verdict might be awarded, a jury verdict might be entered for or against a client, an order might direct a party to disclose discovery subject to objection and/or privilege, an amendment might be granted to allege punitive damages, a trial witness might be stricken, an injunction might be sought and entered, evidentiary rulings might be made either admitting or excluding evidence, jury instructions and verdict forms are selected for trial by the trial judge, opposing counsel may say or do something improper and prejudicial during trial, a jury verdict might be inconsistent and/or contrary to the weight of the evidence, attorney’s fees might be awarded, and a party might not live up to a settlement agreement.  These are but a few issues, and so many more can and do occur.  Any of these events may be in favor of a client or against a client.  Now what?  Which party wants to obtain appellate review?  Is there a remedy? Is there an immediate remedy or must it wait until the entire case in the trial court is over?  What is the vehicle for review—certiorari, non-final appeal, mandamus, plenary appeal, or something else?  What are the time constraints? Has the issue been properly preserved for appellate review?  What are the different standards used to review each and every issue?  What are the chances of success? The questions are endless.  This is where an appellate attorney becomes invaluable.  An appellate lawyer is not just experienced in sifting through the myriad procedural issues involved, but also must effectively research the substantive area of the law applicable to a particular case and then write persuasive arguments, incorporating the law and particular facts of the case, to present to an appellate court in support of a client’s position in the appeals court arena.  At Kramer Green, our appellate department represents clients originating through our litigation department as well as those from other firms.