Understanding the Roles of an Appellate Attorney
Many people reach the end of the trial phase in district court or circuit court and ask themselves, “What next?” Often litigants can remain aggrieved after the trial phase and exhaust their ability to try a case on the merits in a courtroom setting.
If an adverse judgment has been rendered against you, there may be avenues for an appeal to permit a new trial or in some cases a reversal and victory based on an error committed during the trial process.
About the Appeals Courts
Often misunderstood, many appeals courts including the Virginia Court of Appeals, Virginia Supreme Court, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court of the United States of America, are appellate courts that operate on briefs and argument – not witness testimony and evidence.
These appeals are reviews of what occurred at the trial court and a look at the “record” on appeal. That is, a comprehensive transcript and collection of documents that substantiate what occurred at trial so the appellate court can review whether or not error occurred, and more importantly, what to do about it.
Trial and Appellate Attorney
While trial attorneys often shy away or refer out appeals to other attorneys, counsel who can do both trials and appeals are invaluable. In order to be successful on appeal, litigants must have “padded” the record by preserving proper objections and “assignments of error” that they wish to present to the appellate court.
In order to properly do so, often objections must be made contemporaneously to the error alleged to have occurred. That is, during the trial, objections generally need to be made immediately. Additionally, some objections can be preserved by motions including a motion to set aside the verdict or to reconsider.
This gives the trial court an opportunity to address the alleged error a litigant believes occurred, before having the appeals court review the matter. This is a must that needs to happen before an appeals court will even consider the error raised by a litigant.
Efficiency in Legal Representation
By having a trial attorney who handles appeals, you have counsel who can better understand what needs to be presented at trial, how to properly preserve objections, how to position your case for the best chance at a positive decision on appeal, and additionally can ensure that there is seamless preservation of the record.
Often there is too much catch-up required by appellate counsel who was not involved at trial and having an attorney who can handle both aspects of your case will prove to be invaluable. Call Ashwell & Ashwell today to discuss your case, no matter where your legal matter is pending.