When a case goes to trial, whether before a judge or a jury, there is usually at least one party who is unhappy with the outcome. That party has two options: live with the decision and make the best of it or file an appeal. A Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date that the trial court enters the written order being appealed. Appeals from circuit court orders are decided by a three-judge panel on one of the state’s five district courts of appeal. The First District Court of Appeal handles appeals from the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which includes Gainesville.
A case is appealable if there was an error during the trial court proceeding that could have affected the outcome. When a case is appealed, the parties cannot introduce new testimony or other evidence. Instead, the appeals court decides the case based on the evidence that was presented in the trial court. The appeals court reviews the record on appeal, which consists of documents filed with the court throughout the case, evidence and legal argument presented at trial, and a written transcript of the trial provided by a court reporter.
The first part of an appellate attorney’s job is examining the evidence and the transcript to identify appealable errors. The second part is conducting exhaustive legal research to identify prior appeals court decisions addressing those types of errors. The third part is writing a brief explaining to the appeals court, based on the facts and the legal opinions, what errors occurred in the trial court proceeding and why they require the verdict or decision to be reversed or changed. In some cases, the fourth and final part of an appellate attorney’s job is presenting oral argument to the appeals court.
Appellate law is a specialized field that requires in-depth knowledge of evidence, rules of procedure, and legal research methods. It also requires the ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and persuasively in writing. Attorney Marynelle Hardee has practiced appellate law for 30 years. She has the experience and the skills needed to help clients successfully navigate the appeals process.