Legal people! Can I file an appeal without any legal experience?
My friend was severely beaten by police a few years ago. He had a sham trial in the local court. The nurse from the hospital, when asked by his lawyers, said she did not remember him. When asked by the city's lawyer, she was able to break down his profile bone by bone!
His lawyers looked like morons. Later, they confessed they were told by the judge to throw the trial... or else.
They even attempted to file an appeal to the case themselves... in order that he would not be present for it.
He asked me to go with him to San Jose to file... only 7 days left. Can we do that? Get a form & file?
I have filed various appeals in local and federal courts...not hard to do. There are forms available. Contact the court clerk for the region and they will guide you. Many of the forms for appeal can be found online as well doing a Google search. They may vary from district to district.
You need to insure you check the legal ramifications in your area or state. Many require you post a bond equal to 1.5 times the original judgement before you can file the appeal. And appeals usually are based in legal error or proceedings or processes o the trial. Not the case in point. So I would not recommend this action. However you can defer much of the cost by doing the legwork for an attorney you hire. A great deal of cost is charged for research of past cases done by paralegals at high rates. You can do this work once you know the legal argument and provide the data to the attorney.
Generally speaking, an appeal based on facts presented at trial - rather than the lower court's applications of certain principles of law - will be very difficult to win. An appellate court does not sit as a fact-finding body; that is the role of the trial court. You cannot present new evidence or witnesses - you only work with the record that was created at the trial court level. Appellate courts also defer to the trial court's determinations of credibility of the witnesses. It is hard to "prove" that someone was lying at trial when you are on appeal. Further, if an appeal has already been filed on behalf of your friend, he cannot separately file another appeal of the same case.
If the circumstances are truly as you describe, the better course of action may be to file complaints with the state bar against the judge and your friend's attorneys. There may also be a civil rights cause of action your friend could file against the police, provided that the statute of limitations (time period) has not expired.
Your friend needs a good, local lawyer to help here. Some may be available on a contingent fee basis - your friend doesn't pay unless he wins. Sounds like so many mistakes have been made, it would be imprudent to continue trying to figure this out on his own if he ever wants to obtain a satisfactory resolution of the matter.
Thank you for all the advice so far. It is excellent.
Part of his problem has been that attorneys and paralegals he hires eventually quit. His current paralegal received payment, and keeps telling him, "Next Friday, we meet." However, there are now no more Fridays before 60 days from the original trial expires.
Making it worse, critical evidence, like a video of the parking lot where the beating took place, was not presented as evidence. The defense called only the nurse, his pastor, and me (friend from college).
I think I will go with him to file the form. But, I am not expecting any results. I'm just doing it to support my friend. But, I don't want to ruin the filing of the form.
There was no award in the case. They declared the officers innocent. In a bizarre twist, the "exonerated" officers payed the legal bill of the defense attorneys.
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