Our Maryland Appellate Lawyer May Help You Turn Your Case Around
The state and federal judicial systems give plaintiffs and defendants opportunities to appeal a court’s decision, which is why either party may need a Maryland appellate lawyer. If you believe a court made a substantial error, you may be able to appeal the outcome of your case to an appeals court.
Maryland and federal courts allow people to represent themselves in appeals cases. But a successful appeal requires following very technical court rules and procedures as well as having expert knowledge of the area of law. Appellate work is so specialized and time-consuming that many attorneys will find another lawyer to handle an appeal instead of doing it themselves. Your appeal may be delayed or dismissed due to mistakes.
If you are considering appealing a court’s decision, talk to Lusk Law, LLC. Our legal team has successfully represented clients in the appeals process, including cases presented to the state’s two highest courts. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at 443-535-9715.
How Appeals Work in Maryland
Maryland has five types of courts. The three lower courts have branches in each county and in Baltimore City, and the courts are organized as follows:
- District Court – This court handles landlord-tenant disputes, traffic infractions, domestic violence, small claims of less than $5,000, and civil suits where less than $30,000 is in dispute.
- Orphans’ Court – Judges hear cases involving wills, estates, probate matters, and some guardianship cases.
- Circuit Court – This court reviews appeals stemming from District Court and Orphans’ Court. It also handles initial cases involving serious criminal offenses, civil suits worth more than $30,000, juvenile and family law matters.
- Maryland Court of Special Appeals – This court may review any judgment, decree, order, or action from the Circuit or Orphans’ Courts. Fifteen judges serve on this court, with three-judge panels deciding most cases.
- Maryland Court of Appeals – This is the highest court in Maryland (what many states call their “Supreme Court”). Its seven judges review appeals from the Court of Special Appeals. In some instances, it may hear appeals from the District and Circuit Courts. The Maryland Court of Appeals isn’t required to hear a case unless it involves the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law. Instead, litigants file Petitions of Certiorari to the Court of Appeals if they want their case heard. The Court then chooses cases that it finds desirable and in the public interest.
The Importance of Procedure in an Appellate Case
In a civil case at the District Court, a party has an automatic right to appeal a decision. The party must file a Notice of Appeal and pay the appeal fees. Depending on the type of case, it may be “De Novo” or “On the Record”:
- De Novo: The entire case is tried again at the higher court, without consideration to what happened in the first trial.
- On the Record: The higher court is solely reviewing the evidence used at that lower court.
After the first level of appeal, if you want to appeal again, you must file a Petition for Certiorari to ask the highest court to consider an appeal and give a specific reason or reasons for that appeal. The standard of review by the appellate court will depend on the basis for the appeal.
Throughout the appeals process, there are deadlines and requirements that must be met, or the appeal may be dismissed. Depending on the problem, the party may or may not be able to fix the mistake. It’s essential to work with a Maryland appellate attorney when you bring a case at this level, because they are more complex.
Litigation experience will be an important asset for you, which is why you should work with our appellate lawyer at Lusk Law, LLC. Give our team a call today at 443-535-9715 to schedule your consultation.
What is the Appellate Court Used For?
The court’s job is to correct some, but not all, mistakes made by a lower court.
A higher court can’t “overturn” a lower court’s decision. But it can take any of the following actions when it reviews a case:
- Dismiss the appeal: An appeals court may dismiss an appeal that did not adhere to appropriate procedures.
- Affirm: If, after reviewing the facts and law, the higher court believes the lower court acted appropriately, it may simply affirm or agree with the lower court’s decision.
- Reverse/remand: When an appellate court reverses a lower court’s decision (such as a criminal sentence or a civil case award), it reverses the judge’s decision and “remands” (or returns the case back to the lower court) with instructions on how to correctly decide the issue.
- Vacate: In some cases, a higher court may find that a critical error completely negates a lower court’s action. For example, if a court lacked jurisdiction (it’s an issue the court cannot rule on), an appeals court would vacate the lower court’s ruling.
- Modify: The appellate court may find the trial court incorrectly applied the law (for example, sentencing or parenting-time guidelines) and order the lower court to modify or change its decision.
If any of these actions may help your case, an appeal may be worth considering.
Reasons an Appellate Lawyer May File an Appeal
You can’t appeal a decision outside District Court just because it didn’t go your way.
There are limited grounds to base an appeal. If your case doesn’t have at least one of them, an appellate lawyer shouldn’t file an appeal; otherwise, it will be dismissed. Appeals are made based on mistakes made at the lower level, but only errors that impact your case’s outcome should be appealed.
These are some reasons to appeal a court decision:
- The judge made an important decision based on an incorrect interpretation of the law.
- There was misconduct by the other party, their attorney, the judge, or a jury member.
- The evidence supporting the other party is so weak, no reasonable judge or jury member would decide in its favor.
- Evidence supporting your case was improperly excluded and or evidence by the other party shouldn’t have been allowed.
- An expert witness backing your case was incorrectly prevented from testifying, or an expert witness supporting the other party testified but wasn’t qualified to do so.
- The jury had the wrong instructions on how to decide your case.
Some reasons not to appeal a decision include:
- Properly admitted evidence could be interpreted differently, and a judge or jury didn’t see things your way.
- The judge or jury made credibility judgments you disagree with. Unless there are clear problems, an appeals court will allow judges and juries to decide whether or not testimony should be given weight.
Generally, cases can’t be re-tried at the appeals level. An appellate judge may agree that maybe things should have gone your way, but rule that there aren’t grounds to reverse the decision and send your case back to the trial court.
Why Hire an Appellate Lawyer?
You need an appellate lawyer that’s a good fit for you, your case, and your appeal.
If your case ended badly and you think there’s a reason to challenge the decision, we can help. If you’re represented by another attorney or that relationship has ended, a Lusk Law, LLC, Maryland appellate lawyer can help you take the next step.
There are many reasons to hire an attorney to handle your appeal, including:
Trial counsel may not be familiar with appellate procedures and be inexperienced in handling appeals. Your attorney may tell you they don’t feel like you’re best served by their appealing your case, or you may come to that conclusion yourself. Each appellate court has its own procedural rules. If rules aren’t followed, your appeal may or may not be dismissed, but that’s not a chance you want to take. Practicing law is very specialized and technical. If your appeals attorney regularly does appellate work, there’s a lower risk that mistakes will happen. You don’t want your attorney to learn the appellate ropes while working on your case.
Your trial attorney may be too busy with their practice and not want to commit to spending the time and energy needed for your appeal. Appeals may be something they don’t want to do and find it a distraction from their regular practice. Focusing on trial work may also be more profitable for that firm. If you’re working with a solo attorney, they may lack the resources and personnel needed for an appeal.
If you’re not comfortable being represented by your trial attorney in an appeal, you should hire another to take your case to the next level. The relationship with your trial attorney may have soured. You may not like the lawyer’s approach to the case, and you may feel, rightly or wrongly, that their mistakes cost you your case. If the attorney’s errors caused your case’s outcome, that attorney might be unwilling to admit that’s what happened. If you have a potential professional malpractice claim against your trial lawyer, both sides are better off if you find someone else for an appeal. The desire that you part ways may be mutual.
Our Maryland appellate attorney at Lusk Law, LLC has the abilities and experience you can rely on when you want to feel confident in your legal representation in the Maryland Appellate Courts.
Experience Matters When Choosing a Maryland Appellate Attorney
Although the law allows for multiple, escalating steps in the appeals process, most people want a quick resolution. Hiring our Maryland appeals lawyer who is experienced in appellate cases may speed up the resolution of your appeal.
If you need help with an appeal, contact the legal team at Lusk Law, LLC, either online or at 443-535-9715. Let us put our experience to work for you.
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