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Boca Raton & Florida State & Federal Appeals

One of the main differences between a trial and appellate review is that an appeals court does not gather new evidence. The only facts considered are those that were presented at trial. So what does appellate review entail? The court examines the trial court record as well as written arguments submitted by the parties. There is no jury – the appeals court will interpret the law and apply it to the facts in the record.

That is appellate review in a nutshell. However, there is also a difference between Florida’s appeals process and the federal appeals process, which is an important distinction to understand. It is essential that your appellate attorney have experience in federal appeals court if the case involves a federal law issue.

Here is how the appeals process works generally, but remember that specific rules will vary based on the type of appeal and the type of court. See the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

1. Notice of Appeal – A party may initiate an appeal after the trial court has issued a final order or judgment. The first step is filing a Notice of Appeal with the clerk of the trial court. Note that the law imposes strict time limits; the filing party typically has only 30 days after the final judgment has been issued to initiate the appeal. Also keep in mind that appeals are generally limited to final orders or judgments. While there are limited circumstances in which a party may appeal non-final orders under Rule 9.130, those situations are rare.

2. Preparation of the Record – The trial record includes transcripts of the trial or court hearings, documents filed with the court, and any orders or judgments handed down by the court. While the clerk of the trial court prepares the record, it is the appellant’s responsibility to make sure the record includes the relevant documents and transcripts. Again, the law imposes strict time limits. In most cases Florida law gives the appellant 10 days after filing the Notice of Appeal to give directions to the clerk. Federal law typically gives the appellant 14 days to inform the clerk about transcripts.

3. Docketing Statements – Depending on the case and the appellate court, the appellant might have to file a statement identifying the parties, attorneys and issues to be reviewed.

4. The Briefs – The parties’ briefs set forth the facts and their legal arguments for why the trial court decision should be reversed or affirmed. There are three types of briefs: the initial brief, the answer brief, and the reply brief. The appellant submits the initial brief, which is then answered by the appellee in the answer brief. The appellant then has an opportunity to rebut the appellee’s arguments in a reply brief.

5. Oral Arguments – Not every case requires the parties to appear in person to argue panel of judges. However, the parties may sometimes ask the court to allow oral arguments, or the appeals court might require it.

6. The Decision – The court will issue a written decision either reversing or affirming the trial court’s order or judgement. (Those are not the only two possible outcomes. For example, it might also perhaps reverse or affirm the trial court’s decision in part or remand the case for further proceedings in the trial court.) At that point the losing party might still have some options. It might be possible to petition for a rehearing or for a rehearing en banc. The losing party might also be able to petition a higher appellate court for review. Both the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have discretionary jurisdiction in certain cases, which means they do not have to consider every case.

Appellate review is a practice unto itself, which is why it requires an experienced appellate attorney. At The Law Offices of Robin Bresky, our attorneys focus on appellate review at both the state and federal level. We welcome inquiries, so feel free to contact us today at 561-994-6273.

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