When should I hire an appellate attorney?
As early as possible. Ideally appellate counsel is consulted before trial to ensure that all the issues are prepared all of the evidentiary issues are considered and the jury instructions or proposed findings of fact are sufficient before trial. At trial, appellate counsel can concentrate on issue preservation for appeal, should either side elect to challenge the judgment. Doing so frees the trial attorney to concentrate on their forte, telling their version of the facts in a story through witnesses and exhibits.
Realistically, appellate counsel is contacted after the trial is decided. At that point there is very little time to influence important post-trial motions that can affect the case on appeal. But appellate counsel should be consulted to ensure that the notice of appeal is proper and timely filed. No issues should be reference in the notice of appeal. The notice is just that, a simple notice to the opposing party that an appeal is sought. The opposition may also wish to appeal the judgment.
The longer one waits before consulting with appellate counsel, the more dire the circumstances. There are duties required of the party appealing the judgment. Failing to perform these duties in a timely manner can result in the loss of the right to appeal. There are also required filings that shape the bounds of the appeal. Errors in those filings can negatively impact the appeal. The bottom line is to contact appellate counsel immediately.
More answers to frequently ask questions about appeals are available on this website. If you have additional questions, or are ready to proceed with your appeal, call Appellate Attorney William Driscoll at 978-846-5184.