Appellate Court Lawyer in Jacksonville

Appeals in Florida are completely different from what you might have experienced in the trial court. In fact, in a way, appeals have a different purpose, even if, ultimately, your purpose is always to win, and ours is always to give you the best chances to do so. We have developed the skills, nurtured the inclination, and accumulated the experience to best represent you on appeal.
We sharpen those skills every day. We are dedicated to our understanding of the law, to an obsessive research of the legal questions raised in your appeal, and to the art of persuasive writing to present your arguments to three judges’ inquisitive minds.

Roth Law Firm can handle appeals for individual and corporate clients in virtually any area of law. This includes:

• Commercial and corporate matters, such as those involving breach of contract, partnership disputes (what we lovingly call corporate divorces), employment questions, or land disputes like encroachment, trespass, land use, liens, construction defects, or title defects. Appellate issues can involve the jury instructions, admissibility of evidence, decisions made during discovery, the sufficiency of pleadings, attorneys fees, amount of damages, the interpretation of the governing statute or common law, or the admissibility of evidence, among many others.

• Criminal law cases with appellate issues that may comprise sentencing, the reasonableness of a search or seizure, probable cause for arrest or detention, incorrect jury instruction, exclusion of favorable evidence, ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and many more.

• Family law cases that may involve issues on appeal that have to do with child support, alimony, custody, moves out of states, modifications, paternity, adoptions, abandonment, visitation, among others.

• Disputed probates leave issues for an appeal can range from lost or damaged wills to undue influence, the validity of gifts prior to death, fraud, failure to follow proper procedures, lack of mental capacity, for example.

We represent businesses and individuals in front of all five district courts of appeal, depending on where the case originated.

• The First District, which is based in Tallahassee, hears appeals from cases originating in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington Counties.

• The Second District with offices in Lakeland and Tampa covered five judicial circuits comprising Pasco, Pinellas Hardee, Highlands, Polk, DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Glades, Collier, Hendry, and Lee Counties.

• The Third District in Miami hears appeals from Dade and Monroe Counties.

• The Fourth District works form West Palm Beach and covers Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties.

• The Fifth District in Daytona hears appeals from cases that started in Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Brevard, and Seminole Counties.

Roth Law firm also handles federal appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit which hears all appeals from federal courts in Alabama, Georgia, and of course Florida.

We also represent our clients before the Florida Supreme Court whenever it may be called for. The Supreme Court will hear cases that involve constitutional issues and others where the various District Courts disagreed on a question of law. When confronted with those questions, we will take your case as far as it needs to go.

Before the Trial Court

If you are reading this, you have received a verdict, one way or the other, from the trial judge or a jury. Likely, you now know more about litigation in this country than you ever wanted to.

The process you just went through had for purpose to unearth evidence and have a judge or jury decide what that evidence meant under the law. You went through a lot to get here. There were depositions. There were interrogatories where you answered questions in writing, under oath, and the other side did the same to questions your attorney asked them. There were also documents sent back and forth between the two sides.

When all that was done, unless the facts became undisputed and the judge made a decision as a matter of law, you had a trial. Witnesses testified, documents were received in evidence, and in the end the judge or jury decided what all of that meant. And if you are still reading this, you either disagreed with the decision, or your opponent lost and is appealing.

The Appeal

The Nature of an Appeal

The purpose of an appeal is to determine if the decision arrived at in trial was legally correct. And there we put the emphasis on “legally.” All the documents have already been examined. All the evidence has been admitted. All the testimony has been heard. On appeal, there will be no new document, there will be no new testimony, there will be no new evidence.

The party that did not prevail at trial is now presenting arguments why the decision from the trial court was incorrect as a matter of law. The side that won and is now the “appellee” will argue in return that the decision was absolutely, without a doubt, correct under the law.

And there you can already see the very different skill set necessary for an appeal compared to a trial. There is no jury to sway, there is no investigation left to conduct, into what actually happened, no new document to be discovered, no secret witness to find. The razzle dazzle of trial is a thing of the past.

Now two attorneys will have to mine case law, statutes, and regulations to determine the correctness of the trial decision under the law. They will make those arguments to a three-judge panel. They will make most of those arguments in writing, and the appellate bench will write an opinion announcing which side has the better of it.

The Process

There are three phases to an appeal.

The first task is to gather the record. The attorney for the appellant, the party who lost below and is now arguing the decision was wrong, has the ultimate responsibility to present an accurate record to the judges. However, both attorneys have a role to play.

The record consists of nearly everything that was filed in the trial court, both before trial and during the trial itself. This includes all the pleadings, all the evidence, all the motions, and the trial and hearing transcripts if a court reporter was present to take it, and if either party wants to include them in the record. To paraphrase the familiar oath, the record includes what was filed below, all that was filed below, and nothing but what was filed below. Not to belabor the point, but no new evidence or testimony will be admitted.

With the record in hand comes the most important and complex part of the appeal. Now we write the appellate briefs the judges will read in order to reach a decision and write an opinion to explain it. (In candor, they have the option to and will sometimes decide a case summarily without a written opinion.) The appellant writes the first brief (called the principal or main brief), the appellee the second (called the response) and the appellant has the opportunity to write a third one (called the reply) to address any new issue raised by the response—but not to repeat what was said in the principal brief.

The briefs follow a format mandated by the rules. It will explain the facts, what happened during pre-trial proceedings and trial, the decisions made by the judge in the course of those proceedings, then why those decisions were or were not correct.

The third phase is very short. The oral argument before a panel of three appellate judges takes 40 minutes—20 for each side. It is the last chance for the attorneys to explain to the appellate judges the nature of their arguments. In Florida, oral arguments are not mandatory, and as often as not the parties will rest on their briefs. Federal appeals courts always hold oral argument.

The Skill Set

As is hopefully evident from all this, the skill set to win an appeal is different from the one to win at trial. We are now talking to three judges with legal training and a vast experience in the law, not to a jury. And we are doing so nearly entirely in writing.

The skills we bring to bear are a deep knowledge of the law, an ability and disposition to research the legal questions down every possible avenue, and a passion for clear and persuasive writing. These are the skills we hone every day to best represent you in your appeal.

Appeals are completely different from what you might have experienced in the trial court. In fact, in a way, appeals have a different purpose, even if, ultimately, your purpose is always to win, and ours is always to give you the best chances to do so. We have developed the skills, nurtured the inclination, and accumulated the experience to best represent you on appeal.
We sharpen those skills every day. We are dedicated to our understanding of the law, to an obsessive research of the legal questions raised in your appeal, and to the art of persuasive writing to present your arguments to three judges’ inquisitive minds.

Roth Law Firm can handle appeals for individual and corporate clients in virtually any area of law. This includes:

• Commercial and corporate matters, such as those involving breach of contract, partnership disputes (what we lovingly call corporate divorces), employment questions, or land disputes like encroachment, trespass, land use, liens, construction defects, or title defects. Appellate issues can involve the jury instructions, admissibility of evidence, decisions made during discovery, the sufficiency of pleadings, attorneys fees, amount of damages, the interpretation of the governing statute or common law, or the admissibility of evidence, among many others.

• Criminal law cases with appellate issues that may comprise sentencing, the reasonableness of a search or seizure, probable cause for arrest or detention, incorrect jury instruction, exclusion of favorable evidence, ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and many more.

• Family law cases that may involve issues on appeal that have to do with child support, alimony, custody, moves out of states, modifications, paternity, adoptions, abandonment, visitation, among others.

• Disputed probates leave issues for an appeal can range from lost or damaged wills to undue influence, the validity of gifts prior to death, fraud, failure to follow proper procedures, lack of mental capacity, for example.

We represent businesses and individuals in front of all five district courts of appeal, depending on where the case originated.

• The First District, which is based in Tallahassee, hears appeals from cases originating in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington Counties.

• The Second District with offices in Lakeland and Tampa covered five judicial circuits comprising Pasco, Pinellas Hardee, Highlands, Polk, DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Glades, Collier, Hendry, and Lee Counties.

• The Third District in Miami hears appeals from Dade and Monroe Counties.

• The Fourth District works form West Palm Beach and covers Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties.

• The Fifth District in Daytona hears appeals from cases that started in Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Citrus, Brevard, and Seminole Counties.

Roth Law firm also handles federal appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit which hears all appeals from federal courts in Alabama, Georgia, and of course Florida.

We also represent our clients before the Florida Supreme Court whenever it may be called for. The Supreme Court will hear cases that involve constitutional issues and others where the various District Courts disagreed on a question of law. When confronted with those questions, we will take your case as far as it needs to go.

Before the Trial Court

If you are reading this, you have received a verdict, one way or the other, from the trial judge or a jury. Likely, you now know more about litigation in this country than you ever wanted to.

The process you just went through had for purpose to unearth evidence and have a judge or jury decide what that evidence meant under the law. You went through a lot to get here. There were depositions. There were interrogatories where you answered questions in writing, under oath, and the other side did the same to questions your attorney asked them. There were also documents sent back and forth between the two sides.

When all that was done, unless the facts became undisputed and the judge made a decision as a matter of law, you had a trial. Witnesses testified, documents were received in evidence, and in the end the judge or jury decided what all of that meant. And if you are still reading this, you either disagreed with the decision, or your opponent lost and is appealing.

The Appeal

The Nature of an Appeal

The purpose of an appeal is to determine if the decision arrived at in trial was legally correct. And there we put the emphasis on “legally.” All the documents have already been examined. All the evidence has been admitted. All the testimony has been heard. On appeal, there will be no new document, there will be no new testimony, there will be no new evidence.

The party that did not prevail at trial is now presenting arguments why the decision from the trial court was incorrect as a matter of law. The side that won and is now the “appellee” will argue in return that the decision was absolutely, without a doubt, correct under the law.

And there you can already see the very different skill set necessary for an appeal compared to a trial. There is no jury to sway, there is no investigation left to conduct, into what actually happened, no new document to be discovered, no secret witness to find. The razzle dazzle of trial is a thing of the past.

Now two attorneys will have to mine case law, statutes, and regulations to determine the correctness of the trial decision under the law. They will make those arguments to a three-judge panel. They will make most of those arguments in writing, and the appellate bench will write an opinion announcing which side has the better of it.

The Process

There are three phases to an appeal.

The first task is to gather the record. The attorney for the appellant, the party who lost below and is now arguing the decision was wrong, has the ultimate responsibility to present an accurate record to the judges. However, both attorneys have a role to play.

The record consists of nearly everything that was filed in the trial court, both before trial and during the trial itself. This includes all the pleadings, all the evidence, all the motions, and the trial and hearing transcripts if a court reporter was present to take it, and if either party wants to include them in the record. To paraphrase the familiar oath, the record includes what was filed below, all that was filed below, and nothing but what was filed below. Not to belabor the point, but no new evidence or testimony will be admitted.

With the record in hand comes the most important and complex part of the appeal. Now we write the appellate briefs the judges will read in order to reach a decision and write an opinion to explain it. (In candor, they have the option to and will sometimes decide a case summarily without a written opinion.) The appellant writes the first brief (called the principal or main brief), the appellee the second (called the response) and the appellant has the opportunity to write a third one (called the reply) to address any new issue raised by the response—but not to repeat what was said in the principal brief.

The briefs follow a format mandated by the rules. It will explain the facts, what happened during pre-trial proceedings and trial, the decisions made by the judge in the course of those proceedings, then why those decisions were or were not correct.

The third phase is very short. The oral argument before a panel of three appellate judges takes 40 minutes—20 for each side. It is the last chance for the attorneys to explain to the appellate judges the nature of their arguments. In Florida, oral arguments are not mandatory, and as often as not the parties will rest on their briefs. Federal appeals courts always hold oral argument.

The Skill Set

As is hopefully evident from all this, the skill set to win an appeal is different from the one to win at trial. We are now talking to three judges with legal training and a vast experience in the law, not to a jury. And we are doing so nearly entirely in writing.

The skills we bring to bear are a deep knowledge of the law, an ability and disposition to research the legal questions down every possible avenue, and a passion for clear and persuasive writing. These are the skills we hone every day to best represent you in your appeal.


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900