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Steps in the Appellate Process

Updated on February 1, 2011

If you are looking to appeal a decision made by the courts lawyers can save you time and effort (and that of an appellate judge) by letting you know what you are likely to expect on and during the appeals process. An appellate judge differs from a regular trial judge in that they specifically work on appellate cases. They judge the appeal on its merits, how fairly the initial trial was conducted and whether the avenue of appeal is available to the client.

By visiting a lawyer first, they can tell you what the likelihood of your case being heard is. They can also let you know what type of ruling court you are likely to expect. After this They will approach an appellate judge with your case and from there a date can be set to put your case through trial. Remember, an appellate judge is not as interested in what the initial ruling is but rather whether or not the initial ruling is flawed due to an injustice that has been apparent in trial that made the initial ruling. An appellate judge is also interested in whether or not any new evidence has come to light or a law has been changed that may negate the original ruling.

When working with lawyers, they will be able to access the records from the previous trial. Due to diligence in keeping up to date with current law reforms they will be able to let you know quickly if any tweaks to the law that you may have been charged under will have an effect on your initial ruling. You will also need to provide us with any extenuating circumstances that may shed new light on your case.

Appellate Law is Fickle Territory

Whilst everyone has the right to a fair trial, sometimes the ruling court may seem overly harsh or a law has been changed and it is in the client’s best interest to appeal the original court ruling. However, the appellate ruling may not differ from the original ruling that has been imposed. Appellate courts will dissect the case and try and discover anything that may have been missed during the original trial but no guarantee should be made to the client regarding that they will receive more lenient outcome based on the findings by the appellate court.

A particular case comes to mind when my mind wonders into this territory. Lawyers do a lot of NFP work and a recent NFP case that I came across was that of Clifton Mauricio verses the State of Indiana. Mauricio was convicted of the murder of Aras teed Hughes. This came about while Clifton’s brother was fighting with Hughes. The only mitigating circumstance that was considered in his sentence was that of Mauricio’s age. One aggravating circumstance that negated this included Mauricio’s lack of remorse. Another – later deemed improper by the post conviction court – was the court’s intention to send a message to the community.

Mauricio’s appellate ruling did not change his sentence. His original punishment for the murder was a prison term of fifty years. Mauricio had filed a petition stating that he not received adequate appellate counsel as the ruling did not consider his eligibility for the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter and that he was acting in the defence of another. This in itself was difficult to justify as Mauricio in fact shot two individual people. Furthermore, he shot Hughes multiple times from close ranges. Mauricio claimed that he was trying to wound Hughes in order to protect his brother.


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