Civil Appellate Attorney
A civil appeal tests whether what occurred in the trial court was fair, whether the evidence was legally sufficient to justify the outcome, and whether the law was correctly interpreted and applied in the trial court. There are many mistakes, errors, and oversights that can occur during civil litigation. For example, a trial judge may incorrectly decide a critical motion, improperly admit or exclude trial evidence, allow the jury to proceed where there is insufficient evidence to support a verdict, or improperly instruct the jury on the law.
Civil appeals are sensitive to procedure and time deadlines. Identifying viable issues for appeal and properly arguing your case to the appellate court is a task requiring appellate experience. If the case is worth the time, stress, and expense of an appeal then it is worth engaging experienced appellate counsel.
An interlocutory appeal challenges a court decision made before a trial judgment is rendered. Either the plaintiff or the defendant may pursue an interlocutory appeal, such as challenging the granting or denial of a motion. But the application deadline is short, hard, and unforgiving. Litigation is halted while the appeal is ongoing in the appellate court.
A direct appeal challenges one or more parts of a final judgment after trial. A direct appeal is initiated with the timely filing of a notice of appeal in the trial court, a technical legal issue that must be satisfied before an appellate court may hear the case for appeal. Once the judgment is appealed, another party to the case may counter-appeal. Only those who file an appeal may gain from the appeal, rather than merely defend the judgment on appeal. The issues being challenged become the entire civil litigation record, including interlocutory orders.
There are several motions that can be filed after the judgment is rendered. Examples include a motion to alter or amend the trial findings or judgment, a motion for a new trial, a motion for relief from judgment, and a motion for stay of judgment pending appeal. The filing deadline for these motions differs, and most are due very soon after the judgment is docketed in order to be considered or gain their maximum impact. Either party may file a notice of appeal on the decision reached on post-judgment motions, which typically will be merged with the appeal of the underlying civil judgment.
Ultimately a direct appeal will be prepared, presented, and resolved in the Massachusetts appellate courts. Typically that is the the Massachusetts Appeals Court, but civil appeals can reach the state's appellate court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), when selected by the SJC due to novel, Constitutional, or widespread public interest issues.
When a direct appeal is decided in the Massachusetts Appeals Court then an application for further appellate review in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) can be sought. The SJC is the Massachusetts court of last resort. Once a decision has been rendered by the SJC, the only recourse remaining is the United States Supreme Court, the highest appellate court in the country. For example, Attorney Driscoll pursued United States Supreme Court review by filing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari questioning whether a passenger's federal Constitutional rights were violated when the police stopped the motor vehicle for the sole reason of verifying a passenger's firearm license status.