Appellate law is a stage of dispute resolution in which cases are handled on appeal. This type of practice involves sophisticated legal analysis, issue identification, and strategy. Appellate lawyers seek to correct errors made by trial court judges and persuade appellate courts to overturn lower court decisions or expand or change the interpretation of statutory law. 

Appeals lawyer in North Carolina

Many times, appellate attorneys revisit previous cases. Their duties include:

  • Assisting trial lawyers in framing issues and preserving the record for appeal
  • Reviewing and analyzing trial records and documents
  • Researching and analyzing case law
  • Drafting appellate documents and persuasive briefs
  • Advocating before appellate judges in appellate courts

When do you need an appellate attorney?

Appellate lawyers handle cases on appeal. In an appeal, you request a higher court to review the lower court’s decision. If you lost at trial or are dissatisfied with some aspect of the decision made by the trial court, your first step is to retain an appellate attorney.

How do appeals work?

An appeal is not a trial. No new facts or evidence can be added. Through skilled research and writing, your appellate lawyer will present the facts and law to the appeals court in a legal brief. 

A brief on appeal is a written argument in a prescribed format that argues how the trial court made a mistake and includes citations (to the record, cases, rules, or statutes) to support that argument. In some cases, arguments are presented before a panel of appellate judges. The appeal court decides to reverse or affirm the trial court’s decision based on the briefs. 

What factors could lead an appellate court to reverse the trial court’s decision?

An appellant (person making an appeal) must specify the errors made by the lower court. Those errors may involve questions of fact or questions of law. In making your appeal, you must prove that the lower court was wrong. The appellate court may reverse the lower court’s factual findings if the record (trial transcript and exhibits) reflects a lack of a reasonable factual basis for the trial court’s finding, or that the finding is clearly wrong. If the trial court made an error in the application of the law, the appeals court may:

  • Reverse the lower court’s decision and order the case to be retried applying the correct law; 
  • Reverse the lower court’s decision and render its own decision based on a review of the evidence; or
  • Remand (return) the case to the lower court with instructions to reconsider an issue in light of the appellate court’s finding or to do something differently.
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What happens if the issue on appeal concerns damages?

A court of appeal can increase, decrease, or affirm damages awarded by the lower court. In considering damages, the appellate court reviews previous awards for similar claims or injuries and determines whether the award in question falls within an acceptable range. If it does, the appellate court will generally affirm the lower court’s decision. 

What is a dissent from an appellate court?

Appellate courts have multiple judges (and no jury) deciding cases. The court makes a decision and designates one judge (or justice) to write the opinion of the court. An appellate court judge who does not agree with that decision can write a dissent, stating his or her reasons for disagreeing with the majority. 

What appellate law matters do we handle?

Our firm has extensive experience handling complicated administrative, civil, and criminal appeals. We are well-versed in the complex rules and procedures involved in the process, from filing a Notice of Appeal, to writing lengthy briefs, to presenting arguments to a panel of judges. We have handled appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

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Why choose us?

Replete with skillful trial lawyers, Tin Fulton Walker & Owen has a remarkable record of successful advocacy in state and federal appellate courts. We are listed among America’s Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report. Our legal team includes attorneys who have previously served as law clerks for appellate judges and have unique insight into how legal arguments are reviewed and decisions are made on appeal. 

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