Civil Appeals – St. Louis Civil Appeals Attorney

If you have been involved in a civil case and the outcome didn’t go your way, then you are likely wondering what your remaining legal options are. Aside from asking the court for a new trial, or reconsideration on some issues, an appeal is likely your primary option to potentially overturn the outcome of your civil case. If you are considering filing an appeal for a case decided in the St. Louis area, then it is important to understand the appellate process so you can be positioned for the best chance at success. If you have legal questions, then make sure you speak to an experienced appeals attorney as soon as possible.

What is a Civil Appeal?

A civil appeal is an appeal that comes from either side of a civil case where an outcome was decided. This means that both the plaintiff and/or defendant can appeal the decision of a jury or judge if they are not satisfied with the result. Civil appeals argue whether legal mistakes were made in the trial or any pre-trial proceedings. Civil appeals are appeals of the record, and appellate judges are only interested in hearing evidence that relates to how and why a legal standard was applied incorrectly. Even more, the legal mistake must be one that would change the outcome of the case if it were never made. Civil appeals operate by a very strict timeline and rules. If you do not file your appeal, or file it correctly, within the proscribed deadline, then you will likely lose your chance to appeal your case altogether.

How is a Civil Appeal Different from a Trial?

A civil appeal is different from a trial as it is mainly a paper appeal with potential arguments in front of judges on specific legal issues. Civil appeals are not another shot at trial to present witnesses in front of a different judge to hopefully get a different outcome. There are no juries during appeals, and there is typically no additional testimony taken. While a trial attorney will seek to connect with jurors about the facts and circumstances surrounding their client, an appellate attorney will seek to connect with high-level judges on important legal issues to those within the jurisdiction. While trials can be full of emotion and intensity, appeals are based on the application of black letter law and case precedents. Appeals are also not in vacuum-like trials; the decision on an appellate case can become binding law in the jurisdiction if the appellate judges find that the outcome is important towards public policy.

What Can Be Appealed in a Civil Case?

Only specific things can be appealed when dealing with a civil case. You can’t request a new judge or jury unless you can show that something illegal occurred in the jury process or the judge did something legally impermissible. Since these situations are rare, your main options typically in an appeal are the rulings of the judge on legal issues. Every time your attorney files a motion or objects to something, they are creating an appellate record. The decisions a judge makes when ruling on motions or objections are subject to review by appellate courts and even the Missouri or United States Supreme Court if the case gets that far. If a judge incorrectly applied a legal standard or rule, then that can be appealed to help overturn the results of a case. An appellate court has the power to affirm, reverse, or vacate a trial court’s ruling on a legal issue. The appellate court may also remand a case back to the trial court for further hearings or a potential retrial. Before deciding to file an appeal, you must understand what your appellate issues and what the likelihood of success is on these issues.

Why Not Just Have My Trial Attorney Handle the Appeal?

While any attorney should have the ability to handle an appeal, your case shouldn’t be one of their first. Trial attorneys are trained in how to prepare and present a case in front of a judge or jury. Trial attorneys put most of their focus in preparing how their cases are presented before a judge or jury and less of their focus on how their case would be presented on appeal. A trial attorney should object to anything that he or she believes does not follow the law or the rules of evidence. If no objection is made, then you lose your right to appeal the issue. It is often a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes on a case once it is completed at the trial level. An experienced appellate attorney can quickly zero in on what your strongest appellate issues are and formulate an approach that will properly present your case to appellate judges.

John Reeves; Reeves Law

As an appellate specialist, John Reeves provides consulting services to trial attorneys about preserving matters for appeal and drafting dispositive motions. His practice also includes serving as defense counsel in civil matters, including constitutional matters (§1983 litigation), commercial law, personal injury matters, municipal law, employment discrimination, and insurance coverage disputes.

After serving as an Assistant Missouri Attorney General for over six years, John entered private practice in 2015, opening his own firm in 2019. He has personally authored over 250 appellate briefs and has conducted oral arguments in all three districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals, the Missouri Supreme Court, and the federal Eighth Circuit. In addition, Mr. Reeves has personally authored both certiorari petitions and applications for extraordinary relief before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Reeves has also written numerous dispositive motions in both federal and state court.

In October 2019, Mr. Reeves co-founded the Missouri Bar’s Appellate Practice Committee, the first statewide organization in Missouri devoted to furthering professional development for attorneys in appellate matters. He presently serves as the committee’s co-chair.

Contact Reeves Law today to schedule an appointment to discuss your appeal or to have him sit in on your current trial and case.

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