When most individuals think of hiring an attorney in Florida, the first thing that pops into their minds is hiring a trial lawyer, one who can help them with their case at the trial level. But if the case doesn’t go your way, you’ll need to hire an experienced and skilled appeal lawyer in Florida to represent you at the appellate level.
A common question that’s asked is: ”Is it better to get a trial lawyer to handle my appeal or should I hire a dedicated appeals lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida?”
The bottom line is that trials and appeals are worlds apart. Hiring the right lawyer for each process makes all the difference, and doing things right can help you achieve a favorable outcome. Continue reading to know the fundamental differences between trial and appeal attorneys. After you read through this, you can determine who’s the right choice for your situation.
A trial attorney is the lawyer you appoint to handle your civil or criminal case at the trial level. They manage the initial investigation of the case and other pretrial issues, like interrogatories, production requests, and depositions. The trial attorney might also try to negotiate with the other party and reach an out-of-court settlement.
If the settlement doesn’t happen, the trial lawyer presents your case in the trial court. During the trial, the lawyer presents an opening statement, cross-examines witnesses, submits the relevant evidence, and finally presents closing arguments to the judge and jury. The trial attorney’s work is done once the judge orders the jury’s decision.
If the judgment in the trial court is not favorable, you can appeal the case to the appellate court. Just like you need the expertise of a trial attorney to plead your case in the trial court, you need the expertise of an appellate lawyer to handle your appeal.
The appellate hearing is entirely different from a trial. No witness testimonies or new evidence is presented in the appellate court. Nor are there any arguments to be made in front of a jury. An appellate hearing is mainly a time for brief oral and written statements that are presented to appellate judges.
The primary purpose of an appeal is to argue that there were errors in the trial court’s judgment. To prove this, the appellate lawyer reviews the trial transcript, evidence, witness testimonies, pretrial motions and judicial rulings to determine if there were any mistakes. The attorney then submits a written brief to the appellate court, listing the errors and stating how they have altered the case’s outcome. Besides the written brief, the appellate lawyer also presents oral arguments before the appellate judges, who listen to them and decide either to reverse or uphold the trial court’s ruling.
As you can see, there’s a massive difference in the work trial and appellate lawyers do. A trial lawyer’s job is getting the jury and judges to believe and agree with their client’s version of facts. Written arguments are not as important in a trial.
When the case enters the appellate court, it all changes—then the focus is on whether proper procedures were followed in the trial court. The appellate court makes the decision based on the written and oral arguments presented by the attorney.
So, hiring different attorneys to handle each aspect of your case makes sense. An experienced trial attorney will argue your case in the trial court and an expert civil/criminal appeals attorney will handle things in the appellate court.
As soon as it’s clear that you’re going to need an appeal, it’s time to seek expert help from Brownstone Law. Our team of criminal and civil appeals lawyers in Florida can advise you so your interests are protected, and we can even work with you while the case is still in the trial court. We provide strictly confidential consulting sessions, and you can discuss your situation with an expert.
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