You’ve lost your case in the trial court. The jury was wrong, you conclude. Or, if there was no jury, the trial judge made mistakes. You feel that justice was not served.
You decide you want to file an appeal. So, you hire an appellate lawyer and tell her or him to pursue every possible ground for appeal, confident that you will prevail for one reason or another.
Not so fast. Nearly 80 percent of all civil judgments entered in the State of California’s trial courts are affirmed on appeal. The Courts of Appeal routinely conclude either that the trial court did not commit any errors, or that the errors that were committed were harmless and would not have changed the outcome of the case.
How can you tell whether your case might be a good candidate for a successful appeal without first spending tens of thousands of dollars only to find out that the Court of Appeal ruled against you? One way is to hire an appellate lawyer for the limited purpose of reviewing the trial court record and evaluating your chances of success on appeal.
An appellate lawyer offers a fresh perspective because he or she has not lived through the case like you and your trial counsel. Appellate counsel can conduct a thorough review of the trial court record, review the governing principles of law, and evaluate the chances of your success on appeal.
Of course, no appellate lawyer can guarantee the outcome of an appeal. But don’t you owe it to yourself to find an informed appellate advisor to provide an educated opinion before you sink your hard-earned dollars into an appeal? Instead of proceeding in the blind hope that your appeal will succeed, start off knowing the legal landscape so you can make an informed decision whether you want to proceed with an appeal, or to accept the trial court’s judgment and move on with your life.
The next time you consider hiring an appellate attorney to handle an appeal, first consider hiring the attorney to evaluate your chances of success. After you get an answer, you can then hire that attorney to handle the appeal. Regardless of the outcome on appeal, at the very least you will have made an informed choice. Far better than reading an adverse decision of the Court of Appeal and thinking, “well if I had known that, I would not have appealed in the first place.”