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The United States Courts of Appeals are an intermediary between the trial courts, also known as district courts and the Supreme Court. They review cases and decisions ruled in lower courts and typically have the final say on the matter. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals is divided into 13 sections of the country, called circuits. While they operate using the same laws, they don’t all have the same type of caseload or the same distribution of cases. For example, in Circuit 9, which includes California and Arizona, there is a significantly higher volume of immigration-related appeals than other circuits. 

Courts of appeals have a lot of power over how the law is practiced and are able to set legal precedents in the areas where they are located. Some have significant influence over the legal system because of their location, such as the Washington D.C. circuit courts.

Contact The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien today at (401) 246-8579 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Providence appeals lawyer.

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is when a party asks for a review of either a criminal or civil trial in order to either have the decision changed or if there needs to be clarification on the interpretation of a law. Sometimes defendants or plaintiffs think that the courts made the wrong decision and want to have the case reviewed. The appellant is the person or party who lost their case in court and files the appeal. The appellee is the person or party against whom the appeal is filed. 

When Can You File an Appeal?

In civil cases, either party may appeal the verdict. However, in criminal cases, only the defendant has the right to appeal a case in many states. According to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, no one can be tried for the same crime twice, otherwise known as double jeopardy. Trying the defendant again after jeopardy attaches violates their constitutional rights.

There must be a strong legal basis for the appeal rather than simply that the appellant didn’t like the decision. Generally, appeals are filed if the case needs to be reviewed for legal mistakes or if the judge’s interpretation of the law was wrong. These are not the same as retrials or new trials, so there will be no new evidence or additional witnesses.

How Does the Appeals Process Work?

When your trial is over, and a sentence has been determined, you have a certain amount of time afterward in which you were able to file your appeal. Once you file your notice of appeal, you officially begin the process. The court will give you your court schedule and a case number. 

It is vital at this point that if you move or have any other significant changes in your contact information to, let them know. You need to include your filing fee when you file your petition for review as well as a copy of the agency’s final order. If you do not, then you will need to pay online or through some other means. 

What is an Opening Brief?

Your attorney is going to begin developing the opening brief. These briefs are not brief at all. In fact, they can be well over 100 pages with their own tables of contents, tables of authorities, and other cited sources. They are formal arguments for why the decision made at your trial was in error or a violation of your constitutional rights. 

What Documents and Courts Record are Needed?

You need to provide your attorney with all of the documents and court records related to your trial. This includes:

  • The judge’s decision
  • Transcripts from your case
  • Any documents or evidence that represent import

Your attorney will provide the Opening Brief stating the legal grounds for your appeal and what you believe the best decision to be. The opposing counsel will file an Answer Brief, which is their reply to the appeals attorney’s Opening Brief. The appeals attorney then writes a rebuttal in a Reply Brief. 

Panel of 3 Judges in Circuit Courts

Unlike in trial court, where there is only one judge, there are three judges in circuit courts who preside over a case. What’s also different about appellate courts and district courts is that oftentimes the decision is made based on a reading of the three briefs rather than by hearing oral arguments presented by both sides. However, the judges may request an oral hearing or your attorney might. However, most cases get decided at this point, a proceed no further.

Oral Arguments in an Appeal

The oral argument is very different from the trial hearing. First of all, there will be no jury. Secondly, the judges will have already read the briefs and be familiar with the case. Each of the attorneys for both sides will make their best arguments with only 15 minutes to make your best case. This is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney who has argued in circuit courts for several years.

Direct Vs. Interlocutory Appeals

An interlocutory appeal happens when a ruling in a district court is appealed before the trial has formally ended and the case is still being heard in trial court. By contrast, a direct appeal is when a person who’s been convicted of a crime files an appeal to directly challenge their sentence or connection. The state and federal powers outline which circumstances a person can file for a direct appeal. A conviction must be affirmed of direct appeal in order for it to be considered final.

Contact Our Appeals Lawyer in Providence Today

The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien knows how cases should be put together in order to maximize the best outcomes for the client. If you think that your attorney made a mistake during your trial, or if you think that your case needs to be reviewed by a higher court for any other reason, then you can file a notice of appeal in the clerk’s, recorder’s, or register’s office. But first, call our office so we can advise you further. 

Contact The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien today to get started with our Providence appeals attorney.