Appeals are unlike any other field of law. In cases where the stakes are high, your firm could benefit from working with an appellate consultant. Our team can help you craft a more effective appellate strategy, including drafting, editing, and reviewing briefs, along with assisting in preparations for oral arguments. Gusdorff Law Los Angeles appellate consulting has the knowledge and skills to help you.
Whether you’re new to the appellate process or have been working in appellate law for many years, you might sometimes be unsure of whether your arguments, your observance of the rather arcane rules governing appellate procedures, or your strategy are really serving the best interests of your client as well as they should be.
If you’re looking to consult with a lawyer whose primary practice is appellate law litigation and consulting, or you just want to get a fresh perspective, get in touch with us today at 818-877-4515 for appellate consultation services that are personalized to your needs. We can help you make sure that your appeal is as good as it can possibly be.
At Which Stages of Trial/Appeal Can Gusdorff Law Be of Assistance?
While it might seem counterintuitive to involve an appellate lawyer when your case is first conceived, prepared to go to trial, and tried, it can pay some substantial dividends. Statistics in many appellate courts across the country show that the key to winning an appeal is to win below. Working with a strong legal team as early as possible is the best way to obtain a favorable result in an appellate court.
At Gusdorff Law, we help clients at the following stages of trial and appeal:
We can help trial lawyers create an appellate record long before the appeal becomes an issue. This will help to make sure that the proper jury instructions are provided, and the necessary objections are raised. We also help the trial counsel to establish whether to oppose or bring certain motions during the trial.
We also advise clients about the benefits and the drawbacks of bringing post-trial motions and whether to appeal or not.
During the Appeal
We work behind the scenes to help make sure that the lawyer is compliant with all of the necessary procedural hurdles and other services such as brief-editing to help the trial lawyers submit more convincing arguments.
Our appellate consulting services can also be helpful in assessing the likelihood of success for an appeal, thereby helping to craft the overall strategy. Our team can identify the best issues to pursue along with the best arguments to make, as well as finalize the briefs and recruiting amicus support.
How Does Hiring an Appellate Consultant Early Help Strengthen Your Case and Possible Appeal?
With the assistance of an appellate counsel, you will have the foresight to predict the potential outcomes of the appeals case and your strategies. With the appellate consultants helping behind the scenes from the beginning of the case, you will be able to make better discovery inquiries to build your legal arguments in favor of your client.
In a case that involves high potential damages, you can be sure that the opposing counsel will do everything in their power to avoid taking the case to a jury, including hiring legal specialists along with accident reconstructionists, medical experts, engineering experts, etc. in an attempt to transform the case into a dispute of law instead of facts.
With an appellate counsel by your side, ideally, from early on in the case, you will be playing the long game to ensure you end up with a more than favorable outcome. Appellate counsel will also make sure that all the important appellate issues are raised and preserved at trial.
Keep in mind that lawyers who handle appeals are usually well experienced at drafting law-intensive motions, such as motions to dismiss or demurrers, summary judgment motions, and trial motions. A well-crafted motion can effectively help produce an order that will hold up during the appeal. Moreover, appellate lawyers can help to posture the case for appeal by framing the crucial post-trial motions.
How Can an Appellate Specialist Help Me During Trial?
At Gusdorff Law, we assist trial lawyers to create an appellate record long before the appeal is even an issue. This includes advising trial counsel on what material should be included in declarations to oppositions to summary judgment, or what arguments should be made and preserved. I also advise trial lawyers on how to handle unexpected rulings that occur or discussions that were not reported but turned out to be critical. We guide trial lawyers through the necessary steps to ensure they raise sufficient objections on the record.
We also help ensure proper jury instructions are given and necessary objections are timely raised. Jury instructions are a ripe opportunity for opposing counsel to challenge a verdict, so by consulting with appellate counsel during instruction selection, trial counsel maximizes the opportunity for protecting a favorable verdict from instructional attack.
Additionally, we help trial counsel determine whether to bring or oppose certain motions or writ petitions. Trials are a moving target and unexpected rulings or interactions with opposing counsel/jurors/witnesses can arise. Appellate counsel’s guidance can afford peace of mind in knowing when and what to challenge in order to protect your appellate rights.
Why Preparing for an Appeal During Trial is Highly Beneficial
The higher the award for non-economic damages, the more likely the defendant will challenge it. In many cases, the defendants have an edge on appeal when challenging substantial non-economic damages as the appellate court will only rely on the “cold” written record of proceedings, without the benefit of seeing the clients sobbing while they try to testify or struggle to stand, or sitting with a therapy dog.
In other words, without the auditory and visual context, substantial non-economic damages for seemingly minor injuries can, in turn, appear “excessive” or “unsupported”. Good trial attorneys understand this, and they delve into detail about the multitude of ways in which an injury affects the plaintiff, from the enjoyment of their former activities to the ability to be intimate with their partners. Great lawyers know that they have to “warm up” the record before it ever gets to the appellate court.
There are a number of ways to warm the record as outlined below:
Becoming a Parrot
If you have ever talked to an appellate lawyer, you have probably heard them say that you should put everything on the record. This can be a bit awkward in practice, especially when dealing with non-economic damages. For example, when the client starts to bawl on the witness stand, you don’t want to state, “let the record show that my client is crying”.
However, if you fail to parrot the non-verbal cues that occur during the trial onto a written record, they simply won’t exist in the appellate court. As such, you want to be creative here. You could perhaps state on the record that “[Plaintiff], I see you are having a hard time speaking because this is too emotional for you. Take all the time you need. Here, have some tissues…”
Taking Inventory of the Evidence
Trial tends to move quickly, and in many cases, helpful exhibits identified during the trial stage are not offered into evidence. Ensure that before you rest, you have taken a total inventory of the exhibits that you introduced.
If you admit a piece of evidence and the court rejects it, you might still be able to use it during the appellate stage. However, failure to introduce the exhibit for admission into evidence will ultimately mean that it won’t exist for appellate review. Whenever you’re in doubt, opt for over-inclusiveness.
Make the Invisible Visible
Do you have a moving “day in the life” video? If so, make sure you offer it into evidence rather than simply using it as a demonstrative. There are a few ways in which you can make videos more “evidentiary” to overcome an objection.
Talk to your videographer about your goals when crafting the video and speak to an attorney who has successfully overcome the inevitable objections. Maybe it requires having a shorter excerpt when offering it into evidence. If the court excludes your video as evidence, but permits you to show it to the jurors, do not send your court reporter on a break during playback. Your goal is to make the written record reflect the emotional impact of the visual and auditory experience the jurors have at trial. Your court reporter is key for accomplishing this goal.
The goal here is making a written record that reflects the emotional impact of the auditory and visual experience that the jurors have during trial. Your court reporter will be key for accomplishing this goal. Make sure your court reporter transcribes the video.
Pictures and Video Depositions
Before and after pictures should be offered into evidence. Allow the appellate court to actually see your client and where they are coming from. If you used excerpts from a witness’s video-recorded deposition to skewer the witness’s testimony, ensure that your court reporter actually transcribes the video playback. Giving the court reporter a break during video playback is actually a common mistake among trial lawyers in an attempt to be kind to their court reporters.
Be sure to prep your video excerpts as standalone exhibits to make it easy to move and admit them into evidence. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? Well, it could be worth your damages award if you’re unable to convey its impact to the appellate court.
If you are already rested and lost the chance to warm your record, don’t worry. It’s part of the magic that the appellate attorney brings to the appeal and pre-trial motion stages.
Can an Appellate Specialist Help Me Avoid an Appeal?
We love saving our clients time and money. The more “appeal-proof” you make your trial judgment, the less likely your opponent will choose to waste the resources to challenge the judgment on appeal. We help you through making all necessary objections and motions before the case ends up on appeal.
One of the best ways to avoid an appeal is to file post-trial motions. These can be essential as a prerequisite in certain circumstances. But even when they are optional, they can enable you to obtain relief more efficiently than an appeal. Post-trial motions can also serve as your opponent’s attempt at previewing the likelihood of success of certain appellate issues. Further, post-trial motions can allow both sides to put their cards on the table and may foster settlement discussions. We can guide you through the appellate process, but if we can help you avoid it all together, that’s even better for you or your client.
If I Want to Write My Own Briefs, Can Gusdorff Law Help Guide Me Through the Appellate Process?
How long after you file the notice of appeal do you need to designate the record? Is your case entitled to priority? How do you select what documents should be included in the appellate record? What document or information do you need to include with your appellate brief? How do you format an appendix and appellate brief? Do you need to serve the State Attorney General’s Office? When is your civil case information statement due? What do you need to attach to it? When do you transmit exhibits to the appellate court? How do you augment the record? These questions — and countless others — can delay and frustrate someone who is new to the appellate process. We have over 15 years of experience navigating the process and can easily carry our clients through the appeal with peace of mind.
Can an Appellate Specialist Review My Draft Brief?
There is no question that having an appellate lawyer at Gusdorff Law draft your briefs is ideal, but we recognize that sometimes trial counsel chooses to do so for any number of reasons, not the least of which is economic constraint. The most important aspect of writing is editing, and we can edit your existing draft to transform it into a more effective and persuasive brief.
Contact Gusdorff Law Today to Schedule Your Los Angeles Appellate Consulting Appointment
At Gusdorff Law, we offer all our clients trusted and reliable insights on the appellate process. We have amassed a wealth of knowledge from our decades of experience in the appellate field and have developed quality relationships along the way.
Over the years, we have built and maintained working relationships with court personnel and have gained invaluable information about the inner workings of the various appellate courts. Our team of appellate experts can work with you to manage your appeal from start to end.
So, whether you’re concerned about lacking the appropriate appellate experience or you simply have too much on your plate to devote yourself to handle an appeal as diligently as you would want, our Los Angeles appellate consulting services should be a good fit for you.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation with us and get started on your Los Angeles appellate consulting with Gusdorff Law.