If you are thinking about taking an appeal in Texas, you may have some questions about how appeals work. Here are my answers to frequently asked questions about appeals:
I AM UNHAPPY WITH THE JOB MY LAWYER DID AT TRIAL. DO I NEED TO KEEP USING THE SAME LAWYER ON APPEAL? The short answer is “no.” It is not uncommon for an appellate lawyer to be hired after the trial is over. The trial lawyer has a different skill set than do appellate lawyers. While it can be helpful for the lawyers to work together, it is not necessary.
I LIKED THE JOB MY LAWYER DID AT THE TRIAL. WHY SHOULD I CHANGE LAWYERS NOW? A really good trial lawyer may not be the best appellate lawyer for you. Appeals require following different rules and making different kinds of argument than are generally made at the trial level. Ask your lawyer about his or her appellate experience.
CAN LAWYERS FROM DIFFERENT FIRMS WORK ON MY APPEAL AT THE SAME TIME? Yes. Trial and appeals attorneys can work side-by-side on your appeal. They can draft briefs, strategize about the case, and prepare for oral argument together. I like to draft the initial brief while seeking input from trial attorneys along the way.
SOME OF THE OTHER APPELLATE LAWYERS HAVE BEEN JUDGES OR JUSTICES OR WORKED FOR THE APPEAL COURTS. WHY SHOULD I PICK YOU? I have been doing appeals most of my professional life. I have studied how judges think and how they react. If your case is extraordinarily complicated and you have the funds to hire the law firms that those former judges/judges/clerks work for, I think you should consider hiring those firms. If your case is less complicated or your budget is not unlimited, you should consider hiring me. See my blog, “Tips on Picking the Best Lawyer for You” for factors you might want to consider. http://www.popelawtx.com/blog/2012/06/tips-on-picking-the-best-lawyer-for-you
HOW CAN YOU KNOW THE FACTS OF MY CASE? I will learn the facts of your case the same way the appellate court will – I will read the trial transcripts and review the exhibits. I will provide you with a fresh set of eyes regarding your case. I will be looking for the kinds of issues where appellate judges are likely to be most likely to rule in my client’s favor. I should have several months in which to read the record before the first brief is filed.
HOW MUCH WILL AN APPEAL COST ME? Once again, there is no set answer. Once I know more about your case, I will discuss with you my estimate of how much it might cost. While my estimate will be based on my experience, every case is different. Your case may be very complicated, or have a very aggressive law firm on the other side or have some legal question that is rarely addressed by the courts. I will keep you updated at every stage of the appeal.
WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF WINNING ON APPEAL? No lawyer can answer this question with absolute certainty. All I can do is look at similar cases and tell you how many times the plaintiffs won and how many times the defendants won. This will give you a ballpark estimate of how your case might go. We will then talk about your chances of success, what you might win, what you might lose and what it might cost. I will not make critical decisions about the case without your input and approval.
IF I WIN MY APPEAL, IS MY CASE OVER? If you won at the trial court level and the appeals courts all rule in your favor, the case is over. If you lost at the trial court level, the appeal courts look at whether your case was tried fairly. If they decide that something was wrong with your trial, they will send your case back for a new trial. This may mean that you have to go through the rigors of a trial all over again – but with a clearer view of the law. Every rare once in a while, the appeals courts issue a ruling that effectively ends the case – but such rulings are rare.