Appeals

Appeals

In Ohio, one area that every area of the law has in common is the right to an appeal made by a trial court. After the first court makes a decision on a case, at least one side does not like the result. Sometimes more than one side, or all sides, don’t like a result for different reasons. The good news is that whomever does not like the decision made by the trial court has one appeal of right. This includes decisions made by a criminal court, civil court, family court, juvenile court, domestic relations court or probate court. The first step in filing an appeal is filing a Notice of Appeal, which must be filed in the first court that issued the decision and the higher court. Most importantly, this notice must be filed no later than 30 days after the first decision was made. The timelines for the rest of the appeal, including when briefs are due, when oral arguments in front of the judges are scheduled, and the ultimate decision in the case depends on a number of factors, For examples, appeals on adoption cases are handled under the court’s accelerated calendar (link this to the adoption page) which move much faster than say, an appeal from a divorce case. Another consideration is that during an appeals process, you may be able to request a stay (or hold) on your case while the appeal is pending. If you do not request a stay, you should anticipate that the other side may want to request one themselves and you may need to file responsive pleadings with the court arguing against the stay. Motions for stays start with making a request with the trial court and then, if denied, the request is resubmitted to the court of appeals for their ultimate decision on the matter. 

Typically, there are several different considerations for whether an appeal from a trial court decision is advisable. First, any experienced appellate attorney will first review the court decision and look for errors of law. Secondly, they will examine whether there are errors of fact or findings from the trial court judge that are not supported by the evidence. Most importantly, an appeal is generally focused on what was introduced at the trial court level. This means that evidence that did not come in during the trial court proceedings (including testimony and exhibits) cannot generally come into consideration during the appeals process, with some narrow exceptions.  Taking all of this into consideration, an experienced attorney will evaluate whether you have a good case for an appeal and will make recommendations to you as to whether you should continue exploring an appeal or not.

Another important consideration for an appeal is what attorney should represent you in the matter. Most times, when we represent a client at the trial court, we also represent that client in an appeal they may wish to bring, or in defending against the appeal should the other side file it. The advantages of this is that we already know your case well and can usually easily identify where we think the judge erred, or did not err. If we’ve already been involved in your case, the appeal should also be cheaper to you as we don’t need to do any additional work to get up to speed on the issue.

On the other hand, we often times take over cases on appeal when we did not represent the client in the trial court. Sometimes clients hire us after wanting a second opinion from their first counsel. This is particularly common in criminal cases or juvenile court cases involving termination of parental rights as a reason for an appeal on these cases can be ineffective assistance of counsel in the earlier proceeding.  More often than not, we are hired for the first time as appellate counsel when we did not represent the client during the trial court proceeding because the attorney who served as trial counsel does not have the time to devote to an appeal when their practice typically centers on litigation at the trial court level, or because they are not as well experienced or versed in the appeals process. Other times, appeals could involve complex areas of law that are outside a trial court lawyer’s general area of practice. The experienced appellate attorneys at Hoover Kacyon distinguish ourselves from these lawyers, however, because we have attorneys who work in a number of different practice fields so we, as a team, are can pull resources, experience and knowledge of different legal matters to be of great benefit to our clients. For example, a client may wish to appeal an adoption matter and also bring a fraud case against a person for a wrongful adoption situation. In this case, we have both experienced adoption lawyers and experienced civil litigation lawyers who can work together to give your case two different looks, based on the various issues of law involved. Further, Hoover Kacyon, LLC has a number of attorneys on its team so if one person is unavailable to assist on an appeal, we have the ability to assign your matter to another member of our team to start or to otherwise redistribute workloads to accommodate a time-intensive appellate matter.

In considering whether to appeal a trial court decision, or in needing to hire counsel to defend against an appeal brought by the other side, the matter is time sensitive and can also be very costly, depending on the particulars involved in the case and situation. For these reasons, a client looking for representation on these types of matters should contact us immediately so that an initial consultation can be scheduled as soon as possible to ensure there is adequate time available to address your matter.

What is involved in an appeal?

FAQs regarding appeals and the appellate process can be answered here (link to http://www.ninth.courts.state.oh.us/FAQ.htm).

What if the appeals court makes the wrong decision for my case?

After the court of appeals makes its decision, the decision is made in a lengthy written legal opinion. That decision lays out the reasoning for the decision as well as whether the case is affirmed (upheld) reversed (overturned) and/or remanded (sent back to the trial court). If a case is affirmed, that means the decision will be upheld. If a case is reversed that means that the parties are all restored to the legal relationship which existed before the trial court made their determination. If a matter is remanded that means the court of appeals has sent the case back down to the trial court to make a new decision consistent with whatever the court of appeals said in its decision. This can mean that a trial court needs to have a new trial or that it can make a new decision based on the same evidence that was introduced the first time. Either way, because there is only one appeal of right in Ohio, a court of appeals decision is generally final.

There is, however, an exception to a court of appeals decision being final and that is if the case is accepted by the Ohio Supreme Court for further review and consideration. The difference in this appeal, however, is that most times, this appeal is discretionary, being that the Supreme Court has to agree to take the appeal in the first place. To try to get a matter into the Ohio Supreme Court, the party appealing has to submit a detailed Memorandum to the Court, attempting to convince the court to take the case. The Supreme Court does not widely accept cases. Most often, a case is accepted by them if it involves a constitutional issue, if there are conflicts on the issue between two or more of the courts of appeals across the state, or if the matter involves a matter of great public policy or concern. Most importantly, to get a case into the Ohio Supreme Court, a party must demonstrate why this case matters to people outside of the parties. For example, adoption cases generally are easier to get into the Ohio Supreme Court as compared to divorce cases. Where divorce cases often time involve facts and circumstances very central to one particular family, adoption cases have the potential of changing adoption laws throughout the entire state, where not only one set of biological parents’ rights are affected, but which could have rippling effects through the entire adoption industry. In any type of case, however, the party who has lost at the appellate court level reserves the right to try to get into the Supreme Court but should understand that this is a matter of discretion and is not at all guaranteed. For this reason, a court of appeals decision should be carefully reviewed by an attorney and the client so that the client can weigh whether it makes sense for them to attempt an appeal to the Supreme Court and what the costs associated with that attempted appeal may be.