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Mistakes Trial Lawyers Make With Appeals in Alabama

by William L. Pfeifer, Jr. on February 16, 2011

in Appeals

There are a number of mistakes trial lawyers make when they venture into Alabama appellate law practice, some of which were covered in our last post on Should Trial Lawyers Handle Their Own Appeals. In that post, we discussed some of the observations made by appellate court judges on why trial lawyers may want to think twice before handling their own cases on appeal. For this post, we wanted to share some of the observations made by other appellate lawyers on what mistakes trial lawyers are making when they  take their own cases up on appeal.

First,in an article published by attorney Scott P. Stolley in the Dallas Bar Association newsletter, Stolley provides a list of common mistakes clients make when they handle appeals. While his list is about client mistakes, a number of inexperienced appellate lawyers make these same mistakes as well. His list includes:

  • Selecting the wrong counsel.
  • Misanalyzing the appeal.
  • Overestimating the odds.
  • Underestimating the costs.
  • Overlooking the hazards.
  • Shunning ADR.
  • Misframing the issues.
  • Neutering the brief.
  • Overemphasizing oral argument.
  • Mistiming the selection.

To see Stolley’s discussion of each of these issues, see Appeal in Error: Common Mistakes Made in Appeals.

On a similar note, a list prepared by Texas attorney David W. Holman list the Top Ten Mistakes Trial Lawyers Make in Handling Appeals. The list includes:

  • Hey, wait a minute! I thought the case was over . . .
  • I thought appeal was a matter of right, but I was wrong . . .
  • Too many points of error, dammit!
  • Just the facts, ma’am.
  • Analysis, schmalysis.
  • Remember your foreign leaders.
  • You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, and I mean that in the nicest way . . .
  • Rehearing? You didn’t hear me the first time . . .
  • Well, it worked with the jury, maybe it’ll work here . . .
  • Handling an appeal.

You can review his analysis of all of these trial lawyer mistakes by reading Top Ten Mistakes Trial Lawyers Make in Handling Appeals.

Finally, an excellent article for understanding more details about the appellate process and why trial lawyers should work with appellate lawyers is Understanding the art of appellate advocacy: why trial counsel should engage experienced appellate counsel as a a matter of professional responsibility and legal strategy. While attorney Roberta G. Mandel wrote the article from the perspective of appeals in the State of Florida, the general principles of her article are applicable for appeals in Alabama too.

If you are an attorney looking for an appellate lawyer to handle your client’s appeal in Alabama, please visit our Referrals page for more information. If you are a client who needs an appellate lawyer to work on your appeal, please use our Contact page to get in touch with us about representing you. For more information about the appellate process in Alabama, visit our Appeals page.

Alabama State Bar rules require the following disclaimer in all attorney advertisements: “No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of services provided by other attorneys.”

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