Waranch & Brown is pleased to introduce its Appellate Division, chaired by April J. Hitzelberger, Esquire. This special feature of our Think Pieces is designed to support the claims representatives in your legal department. Please feel free to share April’s battle-tested strategies and tips for a successful appeal.
- Start at the pre-trial stage. File thoughtful, well-supported motions. If denied, most are not immediately appealable but can be appealed post-verdict if properly preserved.
- Preserve the record at trial. Raise matters appropriately during trial and object when necessary. Only those issues preserved for appeal will be considered.
- Consider post-trial motions. Can you avoid the need for an appeal?
- Assess the likelihood of success. Is the law on your side? Are the facts not in dispute? Is this an unsettled area of the law?
- Read the Rules and then read them again. This is the #1 piece of advice from the appellate clerk’s office. The Rules may have changed since your last appeal. They are extraordinarily specific and provide a roadmap for all appellate filings.
- Create the record extract. An appellate extract is much more streamlined than a trial. Only those documents that are relevant and necessary to the rule on the specific appellate issue are required.
- Plan your brief. Be specific in what you are asking the Court to do and present your arguments in a concise and logical manner.
- Eliminate as many unknowns as possible. Know your jurisdiction and know your audience. Research prior decisions and watch prior oral arguments from your bench to learn questioning styles and relevant policy concerns.
- Plan for oral argument. Request oral argument in your brief if you want it and conduct a moot argument. Be prepared for a hot or a cold bench. Consider hypotheticals that stretch the limits of your position and examine the policy implications if the court were to rule in your favor.
- Be prepared for the next step. Will there be grounds for a motion for reconsideration (rarely granted)? Is there a legal basis for filing a Petition for Certiorari and is this a matter that is likely to be accepted? When in doubt, read the Rules and then read them again!
If Waranch & Brown’s appellate team can assist you in any way, please contact us.