Firm’s Appellate Group Successfully Represents Clients in Appellate Proceedings

In addition to the wide range of legal services CMDA provides to our clients, our Firm has a team of accomplished and talented attorneys who exclusively handle appellate matters.

An appeal often gives a second chance to a losing party. However, appellate procedures can be complicated, confusing and time consuming. For these reasons, it is crucial that any municipality, company or individual considering an appeal must have competent and experienced appellate counsel. CMDA has a long and distinguished history of successfully representing clients in appellate proceedings.

Karen M. Daley is the head of the Firm’s appellate group. The group focuses on performing research for all areas of law handled by the Firm, writing briefs for submission to all levels of state and federal courts and keeping up-to-date with state and federal judicial decisions and laws that can affect clients of the Firm. They successfully represent parties in the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Please continue reading for a better understand of the appellate process.

WHAT IS AN APPEAL?
A case is usually appealed when either the plaintiff or the defendant loses or did not get everything they wanted. If both the plaintiff and the defendant are disappointed with the result, each may appeal the part of the decision that is adverse to them.

Many people think an appeal is simply a retrial of a case. However, appellate courts do not “retry” a case, take testimony or accept new evidence. Instead, the appellate court looks to see if the correct law was applied to the facts. If so, the appellate court will not interfere with the decision of the lower court.

WHERE DO I APPEAL?
An appeal may normally be taken to only the next higher level of court in the same system. In Michigan, there is a state system and a federal system. The state system is made up of:
• District courts,
• Circuit courts,
• Michigan Court of Appeals and
• Michigan Supreme Court.
In the state system, a case tried in circuit court, for example, would be appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals (the next highest level).

The federal system is made up of:
• District courts,
• Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and
• United States Supreme Court.
In the federal system, a case tried in district court, for example, would be appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (the next highest level).

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE AN APPEAL?
Both the state and federal systems have strict time limitations on when you can file an appeal. In the state system, you mustfile a claim of appeal within 21 days of the final judgment you are appealing. In the federal system, you must file a claim of appeal within 30 days of the final judgment. If you do not formally initiate the appeal process during this very short time, you may not be able to appeal. You can seek permission from the court to file a late appeal, but it is not guaranteed that the court will take your case for review.

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF AN APPEAL?
Appellate courts are limited to reviewing the lower court’s decision for legal errors. If the legal questions were resolved correctly, the appellate court will not interfere with the decision of the lower court. If you cannot show an error of law in your case, there is no point in pursuing an appeal since there is no possibility you can win.

Keep in mind that “harmless errors” that do not have a significant impact on the outcome of the case cannot be the basis of an appeal. It is impossible to have a case free from errors, and the appellate court is not going to reverse a trial court’s decision on minor matters if the error probably did not affect the outcome.

HOW LONG DOES THE APPEAL PROCESS TAKE?
The appeal process usually takes several months to years. Transcripts of the lower court proceedings must be prepared, along with briefs and responses to briefs from both the plaintiff and defendant. Once the briefs of both sides have been submitted, the case will be scheduled for oral arguments in front of the court. Delays are often encountered with time extensions throughout the appeal, and it can take many months after oral argument to receive an opinion from the court regarding the outcome of the appeal.

It is important to remember that while an appeal is a continuation of litigation, it is much different than trial practice. An appellate attorney brings an expertise in appellate practice to the case, and a client will benefit from the fresh perspective an appellate attorney offers. After all, the appeal is argued to a new court that was not involved in the trial court proceedings. Who better to identify the best arguments and how to present them than an appellate attorney who can view the case with the same objectivity? It is crucial that any person considering an appeal must have competent, experienced appellate counsel.

For additional information, please contact Ms. Daley at (734) 261-2400 or kdaley@cmda-law.com.