Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP
OUR APPELLATE LAWYERS HANDLE STATE AND FEDERAL APPEALS
Whether you are seeking an attorney for a civil appeal or a criminal appeal, our experienced appellate attorneys are proficient at navigating all aspects of the appellate process. Our appeal attorneys handle cases in both state and federal appellate courts including appeals to the United States Supreme Court.
If you are looking to appeal a case, it is important to consult with an appellate attorney. In order to determine which appellate issues have been preserved for review, a thorough review of the record on appeal is always conducted. Thereafter, our attorneys are skilled at framing jugular appellate issues for presentation to the appellate court. Adept at appellate practice, our attorneys know how to set forth skillfully prepared legal arguments in the appellate brief. The victories of our appellate attorneys have been chronicled in numerous legal journals and treatises. The attorneys at Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP have been cited in numerous publications including the New York Law Journal, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Massachusetts Guide to Evidence, the Indiana Lawyer, and the New York Times.
Upon request, our firm may consider handling an appeal in your jurisdiction.
WHY AN APPELLATE ATTORNEY IS IMPORTANT
As most attorneys will tell you, appeals are complex by nature. This is why hiring an appellate attorney is arguably the most important step in the appellate process.
An appeal should be handled by an experienced appellate attorney because in an appeal, you are asking a panel of appellate judges to review the record and assess errors made by the trial court. While a trial attorney is concerned with trying to prove facts to establish his or her client's case, an appellate lawyer must explain to a panel of appellate judges legal errors made by the trial court. This is done by drafting persuasive and well-written appellate briefs which are thoroughly researched.
Additionally, appellate attorneys review the entire record in the lower court. Reviewing the entire record involves reading every paper and piece of evidence filed in the lower court. An appellate lawyer must review and analyze everything that occurred in the lower court. While reviewing every part of the record, an appellate lawyer will also conduct extensive legal research. This research determines what errors were made by the lower court, and what standard of review will be applied to those errors.
Many litigants are under the misconception that any lawyer can handle an appeal - however, this is simply not the case. Most transactional and trial attorneys are usually unfamiliar with appellate practice and have never been before an appellate court. It would be unwise to have a trial attorney handle an appeal. Given the complexity of both civil appeals and criminal appeals, experience can be of paramount importance when hiring a lawyer for your appeal.
WHAT IS AN APPELLATE ATTORNEY
An appeal is a proceeding in which an appellant (the party taking the appeal) asks the appellate court to review a decision made by the trial court. Ultimately, the appellant (the person taking the appeal) is asking the appellate court to reverse or overturn a decision of the trial court. The appeal must allege that an error or injustice was committed by the trial court warranting a review by the appellate court. In order to obtain appellate relief, the error must be prejudicial - meaning it affected a substantial right of the party seeking the appeal. A substantial right usually implicates that a party's constitutional right to a fair trial or some other significant legal right was violated. Examples of errors involving a substantial right, include but are not limited to, admitting prejudicial evidence that should have been excluded, excluding evidence that should have admitted, giving improper jury instructions, depriving a party of their constitutional right to cross-examination, violation of a due process right, etc. An experienced appellate attorney can determine whether a compelling argument for prejudicial error can be made in your potential appeal.
If a substantial error did occur, the party seeking a reversal must then preserve their appellate rights. This is usually done by filing a Notice of Appeal after the lower court enters an appealable order or judgment. Every court has different deadlines for filing the Notice of Appeal. For example, in New York, in most courts, the Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty days of the service of the Notice of Entry of the order or judgment. In some courts, such as family court, the deadline is thirty days from the issuance of the order. If this deadline is missed, a party can be precluded from pursuing an appeal. Additionally, some courts require additional documents to be filed along with the Notice of Appeal, such as a Pre-Argument Statement or a Request for Appellate Division Intervention (RADI). The rules on how these documents are to be served and where these documents are to be filed vary among different courts. Additionally, appellate attorneys may have to address matters that can arise during the pendency of an appeal, such as motions to preserve the status quo or preargument conferences. As these deadlines and filing requirements vary in individual courts in different states, a party should consult with an appellate attorney to ensure that pertinent deadlines are not missed.
The importance of an appellate attorney goes beyond knowing important deadlines. After filing the Notice of Appeal, an appellate attorney must compile the Record on Appeal. An appeal is unlike a trial. An appellate attorneys does not get to re-try the case before an appellate court. Rather, an appellate attorney must explain to the appellate court the prejudicial, reversible error that occurred at the trial level. This means that an appellate attorney must provide the appeals court with a comprehensive record of the proceedings below and must explain in the appellate briefs why a reversal is warranted. An appellate attorney usually has years of experience in drafting persuasive arguments that explain the errors of law committed at the trial level while clearly and concisely showing that these errors were preserved at the trial level. This is where an appellate attorney's experience in research and writing is paramount.
Both civil cases and criminal cases can be appealed, however, there are strict guidelines that the courts impose on how this process works for each type of case.
DECIDING WHETHER TO APPEAL A CASE
When a party loses at the trial level, the decision on whether or not to appeal the decision should be made promptly. Most courts require that appeals be taken within a very short time frame. The time to take an appeal is usually thirty days from the court's order or judgment, however, in some courts this deadline is even shorter. If you miss this deadline to file an appeal, you may lose your right to appeal. Many times individuals lose their right to appellate review because they mistakenly believe that by filing certain motions in the lower court, the appellate court will extend their time to file an appeal. When that party loses the motion and then attempts to appeal, these individuals find out they missed the deadline to take an appeal. Consulting with an appellate attorney is an important step in determining how to preserve your appellate rights. An appellate attorney can also help you decide whether or not you want to pursue an appeal.
- APPEALS AS OF RIGHT vs. PERMISSIVE APPEALS
Not all appeals can be taken as of right. Some appeals require permission from the court. While the first appeal from a final order or judgment is generally an appeal as of right, there are some instances where a court's permission is required for appellate review. For example, if a party loses at the first appellate level, taking the appeal to a higher appellate court is not automatic. Generally, a motion seeking permission is required before a court will hear a second level of appeals. Additionally, interim orders are usually not permitted to be appealed immediately. Sometimes it is imperative that the appeal be heard because of the impact the decision will have on the case. An appeal from an interlocutory order is not automatic and a court's permission is required to perfect an appeal of this nature.
- APPELLATE MOTIONS
While appeals are never simple, some appeals become even more complex due to the necessity to file or defend motions. Sometimes motions for interim relief, such as a stay, preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order, are crucial to preserving the status quo while the appeal is pending. Many times these motions in the appeals court are quite complex and subject to very strict rules and filing requirements.
In other instances, motions are required in order to expand or correct the record on appeal. In certain circumstances, parts of the record are missing and a complete record is necessary to complete the appeal. Many litigants who attempt to pursue an appeal without a complete record find that their failure to present the full record to the appellate court results in the court refusing to address an issue on appeal. Skilled appellate attorneys are invaluable because they know what needs to be in the record and know how to ensure that a complete record is presented to the appeals court.
- APPELLATE RESEARCH
Appellate attorneys do extensive legal research which is critical in the appellate process. While an appellate attorney is skilled at recognizing issues on appeal, thorough research is required on every appeal because the law is constantly evolving. Federal or state law can change based upon higher court decisions or a change to statutory law. Many times state law is in conflict with federal law. Sometimes there is a conflict within the state regarding the law. In most appeals, procedural legal issues also arise. An appellate attorney must be adept at researching these complex areas of law. Through their research, appellate attorneys create strong legal arguments detailing why a decision of the lower court should be overturned.
- REVIEWING THE RECORD ON APPEAL
One of the most important tasks done by an appellate attorney is reviewing the record on appeal. Often litigants mistakenly think that a number of issues can be raised on appeal. This mistake is also made numerous times by trial attorneys. Often trial attorneys who take on appeal usually believe they have a grasp of the error committed by the trial court, only to find out on appeal that they did not sufficiently preserve the issue. The record on appeal is important because an appellate court only looks at the record of the lower court and will not address items not found within the record. This is where an experienced appellate attorney is invaluable. An appellate attorney has a fresh perspective when reviewing the record and knows how to comb the record for preserved appealable issues. Assessing the record as a whole without any preconceived arguments gives appellants the best chances on appeal because it allows the attorney to present the appellate court with the strongest arguments.
- THE APPELLATE BRIEFS
One of the most important skills an appellate attorney can have is the ability to write an appellate brief. The appellate brief sets forth the pertinent issues and strong legal arguments for why the lower court committed reversible error. Understanding how to frame the issues and present the law is vital to winning an appeal. Appellate attorneys must understand which standard of appellate review applies to each issue presented. Crafting a persuasive argument also entails citing to pertinent portions of the record to support the arguments presented.
- ORAL ARGUMENT AT THE APPELLATE COURTS
Oral argument before an appellate court is unlike any trial court argument. In the appeals court, there is a panel of judges who question the attorneys on both sides extensively. The appellate judges question the attorneys on both the law and the record below which is why preparing for oral argument is vitally important to your appeal. To be fully prepared, an attorney needs to know every part of the record below and must be familiar with the law cited by both sides in the appellate briefs as well as any changes to the law the occurred after the filing of the briefs. The appellate panel of judges is concerned with whether there was an error in the court below and if it was prejudicial.
Appellate Court Decisions of Interest
The appellate attorneys of Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP secure a victory in Cheri Rest. Inc. v Eoche - 2016 NY Slip Op 07985. Where the lower court had issued an order defaulting the defendant, striking his answer, and awarding sanctions against defendant. Our appellate attorneys were retained to appeal and on appeal the appellate court unanimously reversed, on the law and the facts.
Our appellate attorneys successfully argue that vacatur of judgment was warranted as clerk improperly entered judgment in Stephan B. Gleich & Assoc. v Gritsipis - 2011 NY Slip Op 05483 [87 AD3d 216]. The appellate court stated that the "nature of this appeal warrants the exercise of our discretion in reaching on its merits the issue of the propriety of the clerk's judgment."
Our appellate attorneys obtain reversal in Commonwealth v. Ramsey - 76 Mass. App. Ct. 844. The appellate court reversed defendant's conviction finding that the wholesale admission of medical records that contained multiple complaint testimony violated the first complaint doctrine.
Our appellate attorneys obtain reversal of conviction in Commonwealth v. McKay - 67 Mass. App. Ct. 396. The appellate court reversed defendant's conviction for violation of a "no contact" restraining order issued under G.L. c. 209A finding that the jury instructions were improper and should have included an instruction as to mistake or error. The appellate court noted that the legislature did not intend to make mistake or accidents a crime under the statute and therefore defendant was entitled to jury instruction as to whether phone call was mistakenly made where defendant accidentally hit the wrong contact on his cell phone.
Appellate attorneys obtain reversal in Rubin v Baumann - 2017 NY Slip Op 02001. The appellate court found that the contract was ambiguous and thus, could not be construed as a matter of law. As such, summary judgment should not have been granted.
Appellate attorneys win reversal in Impala Partners v Borom - 2015 NY Slip Op 08352. The appellate court found that the dispute over the meaning of a pertinent term in the contract necessitated credibility determinations of the parties' testimony and the assessment of parol evidence. As such, the term was ambiguous and summary judgment should not have been granted.
Appellate attorneys obtain reversal in Kenyon & Kenyon LLP v SightSound Tech., LLC - 2017 NY Slip Op 04794. The appellate court found that the lower court improperly granted a motion to dismiss where the motion was never converted to motion for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3211(c). As such, the averments in the supporting affidavit were improperly considered warranting a reversal of the motion to dismiss.
Appellate attorneys obtain reversal in People v. Giuca- 2018 NY Slip Op 00846 - The appellate court found that a reversal and new trial is warranted due to Brady violations. The court found that the non-disclosure of evidence by the prosecution, even if negligent, created a reasonable possibility the error's affected the jury's verdict warranting a reversal.
Appellate attorneys win reversal of trial court's order in Baldwin Rte. 6, LLC v Bernad Creations, Ltd. - 2018 NY Slip Op 01039 - The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defendant's motion to compel acceptance of a late answer.
Appellate lawyers obtain reversal of motion to dismiss in 47-53 Chrystie Holdings LLC v Thuan Tam Realty Corp. - 2018 NY Slip Op 08239 - The appeals court found that the trial court's granting of the motion to dismiss the causes of action for fraud, rescission, specific performance and breach of contract was in error.
Appellate attorneys win reversal of order denying a motion for summary judgment in
Fernholz v Hart - 2017 NY Slip Op 08207 - The court found that the trial court should have granted summary judgment and dismissed the complaint as sufficient evidence showed that the decision by the board was protected under the business judgment rule.
Appellate attorneys win reversal of order denying motion to compel in Vasquez-Santos v Mathew - 2019 NY Slip Op 00541 - The appellate court found that the motion to compel discovery to plaintiff's devices, email accounts, and social media accounts, so as to obtain photographs and other evidence of plaintiff engaging in physical activities was sufficiently limited in time and in subject matter to allow discovery of the items requested.
Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP
136 Madison Avenue
6th Floor - #3007
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (646) 942-1798
Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP
265 Franklin Street
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 959-1628
The Siskopoulos Law Firm, LLP has experience in handling a wide variety of civil appeals and criminal appeals. If you would like to speak with an appellate attorney regarding your appeal, call either the New York Office at (646) 942-1798 or the Boston Office at (617) 959-1628.
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