When a case has gone through trial and a verdict is delivered, it is often only the beginning of the legal process. If you did not receive the result that you wanted, an appeal might be necessary. The process of appealing a ruling is very different from the original trial. In an original trial, the lawyers argue to prove the liability, or lack thereof, of a person or group of people. During the appeals process, lawyers try to prove that something went wrong with that initial trial to show the appeals court a second look should be given to the case. At Martin Cukjati & Tom, LLP, we've handled numerous civil cases from trial through the appeals process, and we understand what action we need to take to help our clients succeed.
It’s important to think about the appellate process during the initial trial. Making sure all evidence is presented is crucial to a successful appeal, as appeals courts usually do not allow new evidence to be presented when their judges review a case. In addition, you can only begin the appeals process after the trial judge has signed a final judgment. Once the final judgment is signed, the clock starts ticking, and you must file a notice of appeal as soon as possible.
THE TEXAS APPELLATE PROCESS
Different case types can have different time limitations for how long after the trial you must file an appeal. It can be as few as 20 days or up to several months, and very rarely can the timeline be extended. Getting an appeal filed quickly can help ensure no deadlines are missed. The appellate attorney should send in the appellate brief–essentially a document that explains what went wrong in the original trial and the argument for why an appeal should be granted–and make sure the court reporter’s record and the court clerk’s record are filed as part of the appeals process.
Experienced Texas appellate lawyers know there are strict rules around how these items should be delivered. Any of these items being improperly submitted can lead to what is known as a procedural default, which is essentially when a verdict is affirmed because the appellate paperwork was not filed properly or the brief was not written correctly. If an appeal is accepted, the next step might be oral arguments, but oral argument is not required in every case, nor do they signal how the court will rule on the appeal. Then the appeals court will make its decision and provide a written opinion on why it affirmed or reversed the lower court’s ruling, changed a damage award amount, or even determined there should be a retrial in the lower court.
After the initial appeals court rules, the loser may decide to appeal further to the Texas Supreme Court and has limited time to file a petition for review. The Texas Supreme Court may or may not decide to hear a case or grant the discretionary petition for review. If discretionary review is granted, the court will set deadlines for briefs to be filed and designate whether it will hear oral arguments or not. The highest civil court in Texas will ultimately issue a ruling. After its decision is made, the loser may appeal to the United States Supreme Court if there is a Constitutional issue at play in the case. The odds of a case being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court are very low.
SAN ANTONIO APPEALS LAWYERS
At Martin Cukjati & Tom, LLP, we are very familiar with the civil appeals process and can help no matter where your case is in the litigation or appellate process. Our first step will be to review every aspect of the case and determine what should cause an appeals court to grant a review. Not every case can be appealed, so it is important to have an attorney who can help build a case for your appeal.
Many litigation attorneys are not comfortable handling the civil appeals process. Our team has experience with litigation and appeals, so we know how to handle a case as it moves through the legal system. We are quick to react after each ruling and partner with you every step of the way. If you are thinking about appealing a ruling or want to ensure your trial counsel can handle an appeal if one should arise, contact us today to discuss how we can help you succeed.