Appeals and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Kent, Anderson, Bush, Frost & Metcalf, P.C. maintains an active appellate practice in state and federal courts throughout Texas, assisting clients in civil and criminal appeals to reverse errors made at trial.
Litigation is an adversarial process, and when a case goes all the way to judgment, it usually means that one side wins and the other loses. In most instances, the losing party will have a right to appeal the decision to a higher court. Whether the appeal is by right or discretionary, such as through a writ of certiorari, the appellant must follow specific procedures in order to have the case heard at the appellate level. This includes filing a motion for appeal within the applicable time frame, which may be as little as 30 days, and stating proper grounds for the appeal.
Appeals in civil court generally must be grounded upon some misapplication by the trial judge of the law or legal principles that control the case. Examples would be making an incorrect ruling on a motion or objection, which allowed improper testimony to be heard or improper evidence to be admitted. Giving faulty instructions to the jury is another example of legal error, which may be appealable. Another example is if the judge abused his or her discretion, or acted arbitrarily or capriciously in the matter.
Whether a case will be overturned on appeal depends upon the seriousness of the error. It is not enough to show that error was made. The appellant must also show that error was reversible error, as opposed to harmless error, which means the appeals court decided the error did not affect the outcome of the case at trial.
The grounds for appeal in a criminal case are somewhat broader than in a civil case. There are also many more routes to get a case back into court in the criminal justice system. In addition to a direct appeal, there are different types of collateral appeals and post-conviction relief, such as writs of habeas corpus, through which a defendant may be able to get the case back before a judge for review.
Trial errors in a criminal case often center around the admissibility of evidence which was obtained illegally, such as from a warrantless search or warrantless arrest which violated the defendant's constitutional rights. Police or prosecutorial misconduct at any stage of the proceeding may also be grounds for an appeal. The accused in a criminal trial have many rights guaranteed by the constitution, such as a right to a speedy trial or competent counsel, and the failure to grant these rights may be grounds for appeal.
Experienced at Trial, Experienced on Appeal
As trial lawyers, we understand the importance of making appropriate and timely objections and preserving questions for appeal in both civil and criminal matters, such as by making an offer of proof. As appellate attorneys, we know how to review a trial transcript for errors, prepare a compelling brief, and conduct persuasive oral arguments seeking a reversal, new trial, or other relief. For assistance in appeal of a civil or criminal matter, contact Kent, Anderson, Bush, Frost & Metcalf, P.C.
Mediation and Arbitration
As a certified mediator in Texas, Cynthia Stevens Kent will provide mediation, arbitration, and other alternative dispute resolution services to assist lawyers, individuals, and businesses in taking control of disputes by agreed resolutions outside of the courthouse. Her extensive experience for 24 years as a judge in Texas will provide valuable assistance to lawyers and litigants in evaluating and working toward amicable resolution of issues in all areas of conflict. Her experience includes successful mediation of patent law, family law, and most types of civil litigation.