Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Blog: Why You Need to Do Your Research Prior to Hiring an Appellate Attorney

Written By: Paul J. Wallin, Senior Partner of Wallin & Klarich, A Law Corporation.

If you have been convicted of a felony crime, you have options available to you. A guilty verdict does not necessarily have to be the final judgment. Many criminal convictions may be reversed or modified on appeal.
I cannot stress enough the importance of conducting meticulous research before selecting an attorney to represent you.  Regarding trial lawyers, attorney Julia Jayne handles all of her cases fairly and ethically, she is also a tenacious fighter who will work vigorously to make certain that her clients obtain the justice they desire and deserve.
If you were found guilty of felony charges because you were unable to retain a trial attorney of Ms. Jayne’s caliber, you may still have a second chance through an appeal. However, this time you must ensure that you conduct the adequate research necessary to select the right lawyer to handle your appeal.
An attorney who is experienced in criminal appeals will put forth a strong argument that mistakes or misconduct occurred at your trial. If he or she is successful in doing so, you may be able to have your guilty conviction overturned and receive a new trial.  
In some cases, you may not even face retrial if the District Attorney’s office does not wish to prosecute the matter again.
1.      Consequences of a Felony Conviction
A felony conviction will remain on your permanent record unless it is successfully challenged or expunged. You could face difficulty in the future when applying for a job, state licensure, public benefits or a residential lease. You also lose your right to own a firearm. The following are things you must consider if you want to successfully appeal your criminal conviction:
2.      You have a limited amount of time to file your notice of appeal.
A defendant interested in appealing a felony conviction has only 60 days from the time he or she was sentenced to timely file a notice of appeal.  Exceptions to this timetable are rarely permitted. Because your window of opportunity is narrow, you should not take any chances by trying to accomplish this on your own.
Additionally, almost every court jurisdiction has its own set of rules, called the “local rules.” These rules govern the procedures that must be followed. However, the rules may vary depending on the district within the Court of Appeal. There are six districts in California, some of which are divided into even smaller divisions.
An attorney who has extensive experience with handling appeals will make certain to follow the local rules and can illuminate any errors that may have occurred during your trial.
3.       Your Attorney Must Possess Strong Oral and Written Persuasive Skills
Remember that an appeal is a review of your trial, not a new trial. Your attorney cannot introduce new evidence on appeal. He or she must be able to convince a three-judge panel that either the evidence used against you at trial was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict, or that legal errors were committed that led to an improper ruling, conviction or sentence.
Your chances of winning your appeal increase if you hire an attorney who can persuasively argue how you would have benefitted from a different outcome at your trial if these mistakes had not been made.
If you are dissatisfied with the result in your case, you need a lawyer who is familiar with appellate level review, who understands where errors can occur at trial, and one who knows how to best challenge those errors at the appellate level.
Trial lawyers are required to persuade juries made up of ordinary citizens, which often involves making emotionally-driven arguments. An appellate lawyer isn’t permitted to try your case again in front of a jury.
If you have been Convicted of a Felony Crime, Don’t Wait Until it is Too Late
A felony conviction, albeit devastating, is not the end of the road. If you or a loved one is convicted of a felony crime, you must act quickly in determining the best option for that individual.  If you conduct thorough research, the chances of you hiring an effective attorney and successfully appealing your criminal conviction increase greatly.



Sources:
Daniel E. Hall, J.D., Ed.D.: Criminal Law and Procedure, Sixth Edition
Deborah E. Bouchoux, Georgetown University: Legal Research and Writing, Sixth Edition
Wallin & Klarich, A Law Corporation: “Common Grounds for Appeals in California”; http://www.wklaw.com/areas-appeals.html