Federal Civil Appeals

Decoding Federal Civil Appeals:
Strategic Counsel with Alderman Law Firm

Appellate courts, often referred to as “courts of last resort,” play a crucial role in the legal process, making decisions that are both critical and final. Selecting the right federal appeals attorney becomes imperative in maximizing the chances of success. The Alderman Law Firm boasts attorneys with the expertise and experience needed to assist in perfecting arguments on appeal, adeptly handling federal civil cases in the 4th, 6th, 7th and 10th Circuits.

What Is a Civil Appeal?

In a civil appeal, a litigant petitions the Federal Court of Appeals to reverse a final judgment or decision made by the trial court. Appellate arguments often involve complex legal interpretations, and identifying “appealable issues” requires a careful review of the written record for procedural errors.

It’s important to note that a civil appeal is not an opportunity to re-litigate the case. Appellate judges focus on reviewing errors made during the process rather than re-evaluating the trial court’s decision based on the same evidence. The exception is when the Federal Court of Appeals applies a de novo standard of review to a specific issue or case.

Where Do I Start?

The first and most important step is to file a timely notice of appeal. The deadline to file this notice is calculated from the trial court’s final order.

The initial and crucial step is filing a timely notice of appeal, with the deadline calculated from the trial court’s final order. The Alderman Law Firm recommends filing the notice of appeal promptly and paying the necessary fees. While federal court forms are available online, having legal counsel execute the notice ensures proper filing due to nuances. Trial counsel can file the notice, even if the intention is to proceed with a federal appeals attorney.

What Happens After I File My Notice of Appeal?

After filing a notice of appeal, the next step involves filing and serving a designation of record, defining the documents and transcripts to be sent to the Federal Court of Appeals. The trial court compiles and transfers the record, and the Federal Court of Appeals issues a briefing schedule. Strict formatting and content requirements for federal court of appeals filings, outlined in the appellate rules, are best navigated by qualified a federal appeals attorney.

You may request the Federal Court of Appeals hear oral arguments on your appeal. If you don’t request oral argument, the court of appeals may sua sponte order it, although this is unusual. Typically, the court will decide your appeal on the briefs alone. If you do request oral argument, and that request is granted, arguments will be scheduled, and a decision will be rendered following those arguments.

What If The Federal Court Of Appeals Denies My Appeal?

If your appeal is denied, you may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review your case. Although you have the right to request such review, the Supreme Court is not required to hear your case. The majority of petitions for certiorari are denied—nearly 95%. If you can get past the very high hurdle of a petition for certiorari such that the Supreme Court is willing to hear your argument, you stand a better chance of having your appeal succeed.

If you wish to ask the Supreme Court to review your case, you must file a cert petition shortly after the Federal Court of Appeals’ decision. In this petition, you are not arguing the substantive issues in your case; you are arguing that the Supreme Court should allow you to argue the substantive issues in your case. The criteria are limited—the Supreme Court is looking for cases that present novel issues, resolve nationwide legal conflicts, or demonstrate exceptional errors that are likely to recur unless the highest court intervenes.

If that petition is accepted, then a new round of briefing begins, where you move on to arguing the merits of your case.

What Can The Alderman Law Firm Do For Me?

Roughly 9 out of 10 appeals end in an affirmance of the trial court’s decision. Appeals are based solely on the trial court record and, as far as that goes, only so much of it as was properly designated for transmittal to the Federal Court of Appeals. The decisions are rendered, in the largest part, based on the written briefs of the parties, which are legally technical and complex. It is therefore vital to have your briefs written by an experienced professional.

The attorneys at the Alderman Law Firm have extensive experience in federal appellate advocacy and can provide you with professional assistance every step of the way. From reviewing your case materials for errors to expertly drafting your appellate and reply briefs, the attorneys at the Alderman Law firm have the depth of experience necessary to provide you with the best chance of success on appeal.

What If I Have More Questions?

The above information is offered as a general overview of the federal civil appeals process. This information is provided as a courtesy and is not legal advice. If you are considering undertaking a federal civil appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm for your free consultation at (720) 588-3529.