Navigating Unusual Appellate Challenges

In the dynamic field of appellate law, attorneys frequently encounter a myriad of procedural challenges that test their expertise and adaptability.

Janet R. Gusdorff, a seasoned appellate law specialist and the principal of Gusdorff Law, P.C., delves into these complexities in her insightful article featured in the December 2023 edition of Advocate, a journal published by the Consumer Attorneys Association for Southern California.

This piece recaps the unusual and unexpected hurdles cited in the aforementioned article that appellate attorneys may face, from early dismissal of appeals and settlement nuances to the procedural intricacies following a client’s death and the exigencies necessitated by global pandemics.

Unusual Appellate Challenges You May Face

infographic for the appeals process

Early Dismissal of Appeals:

There are occasions when continuing an appeal may no longer be desirable or necessary. The course of action for terminating an appeal varies depending on whether the appellate record has been filed. It’s crucial to understand the implications of early dismissal, as it can have res judicata implications and affect who is considered the “prevailing party” for the purposes of obtaining costs.

Settlement During Appeal:

The appellate process can often illuminate the advantages of settlement for both parties involved. Whether before briefing or after, settlement can offer a resolution that saves time, costs, and the uncertainty of a gamble on the appeal’s outcome. However, even a last-minute settlement may not always lead to the dismissal of the appeal, as the appellate court retains discretion based on the significance and continuing interest of the issues at hand.

Deceased Client:

The appellate process is notoriously slow, and it’s not unheard of for a client to pass away before resolution. In such cases, it’s important for counsel to inform the court and request a stay pending the appointment of a personal representative to continue the appeal. This step ensures that the proceedings can be properly managed in light of such unfortunate circumstances.

Expedited Appeals:

Certain situations, such as terminal illness or significant economic hardship, necessitate an expedited appeal process. California’s legislature and appellate courts provide mechanisms to grant preference to these cases, reflecting the principle that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

New Evidence:

On rare occasions, new evidence may emerge that was not presented at trial. The writ of coram vobis is a narrow and stringent path to have the appellate court consider such evidence, emphasizing the rarity and extraordinary nature of this recourse.

Adjustments for Global Pandemics and Emergencies:

The COVID-19 pandemic exemplified the need for the legal system to adapt to extraordinary circumstances, leading to emergency tolling, extensions, and the accommodation of remote oral arguments. This adaptability ensures that justice can continue to be served, even in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Parting Ways:

Sometimes, a client and their attorney may need to part ways during the appeal. The process for attorney withdrawal or substitution is regulated to ensure that clients are not unduly prejudiced by such changes, especially at critical junctures of the appeal.

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At Gusdorff Law, we pride ourselves on our ability to navigate these and other appellate challenges. Our commitment to understanding and applying the complex procedural rules of appellate law ensures that we can provide our clients with the skilled representation they need. The appellate process is filled with potential surprises and plot twists, but with the right guidance, these waters can be navigated successfully. Whether facing early dismissal, settlement considerations, or the need for an expedited appeal, Gusdorff Law stands ready to assist our clients in achieving their legal goals.

For anyone facing an appeal battle, remember: knowledge of the rules, consultation with experienced colleagues, and adaptability to unexpected developments are key to navigating the appellate process effectively. At Gusdorff Law, we embrace these challenges and look forward to guiding our clients through their appellate journeys.

For those interested in delving deeper into these unusual complexities of appellate law, we invite you to read Janet R. Gusdorff’s full article in the Advocate Journal of the Consumer Attorneys Association for Southern California – December 2023 Edition.

Gusdorff, a certified appellate law specialist and principal of Gusdorff Law, P.C., offers comprehensive insights and guidance based on her extensive experience in handling appeals in both state and federal courts. Her article is a valuable resource for attorneys seeking to navigate the appellate landscape with confidence and skill.