Federal Appeals: It’s Not Over Until it’s Over
If you’ve been charged with a federal crime and you’re waiting for trial, it’s the perfect time to think about what will come after a verdict has been rendered in your case. Win or lose, there could be an appeal. Believe it or not, preparing for trial and appeal are often one and the same. A good defense strategy always considers the possibility of a subsequent appeal.
It’s important to remember that every war is composed of many battles. There’s every reason for a defendant to understand the legal strategies that will ultimately determine their fate. Losing at trial doesn’t always mean that the legal war is over.
A winning appeal is founded on the legal record that was established during the initial trial. There are many practical factors that will greatly influence the success or failure of a federal appeal.
Preparing For Appeal
Once again, every defense strategy should include an effective appellate battle plan. A complete analysis of the legal theories that pertain to your case will be required. The plan should include the vital legal elements to be alleged on your behalf as well as any causes of action likely to be presented by your opponent. Potential constitutional claims should receive special attention.
- Building a solid legal record during a federal trial is essential. The trial record provides the legal basis for a potential appeal. The appellate court cannot consider legal issues not contained in the trial record. Generally speaking, appellate arguments must first be argued during the initial trial.
- The pleadings raised in a federal trial are crucial to the development of a successful appeal. At the federal level, aRule 16 pretrial order must include all claims and defenses. Under Rule 16, any claim that was excluded from the pretrial order can be barred from appeal.
Preserving the Trial Record
Telling the legal story clearly and preserving the historical record of a trial is crucial. That record is the story that will be made available to an appellate court in the event of an appeal. The statements of fact germane to an appeal must be anticipated before and during the initial trial.
- Raising objections in court and preserving a ruling concerning legal claims that may be relevant to an appeal is an important legal strategy.
- The trial record must be complete and include rulings on all errors that may provide a basis for filing an appeal.
- Correct all legal misstatements and prejudicial evidence during the course of a trial.
- Take care to correct imperfections in the court’s charge to the jury.
- It’s usually best to win your case at trial and be the appellee, but one exception to this rule is when a default judgment occurs.
- Preserving the record following a verdict or judgment is another aspect of preparing for appeal.