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Appellate Law

Jacksonville Appellate Law Attorneys

The attorneys at Heekin Law, P.A. are not only experienced at the trial level, we are also experienced at the Appellate level. Each of our attorneys have handled cases on appeal including the drafting of Appellate briefs and oral argument, and would enjoy assisting clients with appeals in each of Florida’s five (5) District Courts of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Appellate law is much different than trial work. At the trial level, there is usually only one judge or a jury who decides a case. However, on appeal, there is usually a panel of three judges and sometimes there can be a panel of the entire appellate court. Also, while the focus at the trial level is usually on the facts of the instant dispute, the focus on appeal is usually on the legal grounds and application of the law to the facts.

A party typically has the right to appeal all final orders. In some situations, a party may have a right to appeal a non-final order. In determining whether there is a right to appeal, parties need to be very cautious that they meet the strict appellate deadlines set forth in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Failure to adhere to the strict appellate deadlines will render an otherwise appealable issue not appealable. For example, there is usually a thirty (30) day deadline to appeal a final order. As such, determining when an order is “final” is absolutely critical to preserving one’s rights to an appeal.

Often times, there are typically many motions at the trial level. However, that is usually not the case on an appeal. Instead, the Appellate process uses a briefing schedule, which consists generally of an Initial Brief, followed by an Answer Brief, followed by a Reply Brief. The requirements and conditions for the briefs are specifically set forth in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.

While there may also be many hearings at the trial level, on appeal, parties are typically limited to one oral argument. The oral argument takes place after all of the briefing has concluded. Oral argument is discretionary and is not always permitted. Oral Argument must be requested by the parties or the appellate court. Even if oral argument is requested, the appellate court may decline to permit oral argument.

A party’s chances of success on an appeal typically depend upon the standard of review that the appellate court will use to determine the merits of the appeal. For example, sometimes an appellate court is able to review the case as if it saw it for the first time. This is called de novo review. On the other hand, sometimes the appellate court must utilize an abuse of discretion standard of review, which is a much higher standard because the appellate court will affirm the trial court’s order unless the appellate court finds that the trial court abused its discretion. There are many different standards of review and the standard of review should be considered very carefully in determining the likelihood of a party’s chance of success on appeal.

Due to the intricacies involved and the fact that there are specific rules that apply solely to appellate law, if you are considering whether or not to take an appeal, you should seek competent counsel who is well versed in the appellate arena. Just because an attorney is great at the trial level does not mean that he or she will be great on appeal. You should inquire as to the attorneys’ experience at the appellate level and ask whether the attorney has any reported appellate decisions.

If you are considering whether or not to file an appeal or if you have a question about appellate law, the attorneys at Heekin Law, P.A. would be happy to meet with you to discuss your appellate options. As always, the initial consultation is free.


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