No “Do-Overs,” But…
Trial courts, like everyone, make mistakes. When that happens in New Jersey, you have the right to appeal your matter to the Appellate Division, which will review your case for the alleged mistakes. Your legal counsel, however, needs to preserve your arguments for appeal by raising them in a timely manner before the original trial court. The specific arguments will be raised for appeal before the New Jersey Appellate Division where your case will be reviewed by a panel of three judges who vote on the outcome, as opposed to a singular judge and a jury. The appellate court will review your matter with fresh eyes for legal errors, but if the trial court had to determine a fact—like whether to believe a certain witness—that kind of determination will not generally be overturned.
The New Jersey Appeals Process
The appeal process consists of two phases: briefing and argument. The party making the appeal—the appellant—will file an opening brief with the court describing the issues for appeal and their arguments. The opposing side—the appellee—will file a brief responding to those arguments in kind. Finally, the appellant has an opportunity to file a reply brief addressing the arguments raised in the appellee’s brief.
If oral argument has been requested, and granted, the parties will convene before the panel of three appellate judges assigned to the matter to make their arguments in person. This appeal process is lengthy, and can take well over a year from start to finish, even in the best of times. The briefing and argument process itself can take several months, and the court might not decide the matter for several months more.
An Appeals Law Firm Needs New Jersey Knowledge
All appellate courts have different and somewhat complex procedures so it is important to have local experience. There are specific rules about the timing of brief submissions, accompanying papers and submissions, page counts, and even typeset and page formatting. Here is an excerpt from just some of the requirements by which appellate lawyers in New Jersey must abide:
Paper shall be of good quality, opaque and unglazed. Coated paper may be used. Where the method of reproduction permits, color of paper shall be India eggshell. Copy may be printed on both sides provided legibility is not impaired. Papers shall be approximately 8.5 inches by 11 inches and, unless a compressed transcript format is used, shall contain no more than 26 double-spaced lines of no more than 65 characters including spaces, each of no less than 10-pitch or 12-point type.
And the list goes on. Experience matters because it is important to work with appeals lawyers who are knowledgeable about New Jersey’s requirements.
Our Appeals Advantage
The attorneys at Dressel/Malikschmitt have a proven record of success in their appeals, based in large part on the overall quality of their work. In the New Jersey appellate process, legal acumen really shines because so much depends on the papers, as opposed to testimony and oral argument. It requires closely scrutinizing the record for every helpful fact, presenting it in a digestible way to the appellate panel, and writing eloquently to really knock down your adversary’s arguments. Also, because it primarily focuses on legal (as opposed to factual) errors, our clients’ benefit from our significant legal research skills. We work to see the language from our own brief show up in the panel’s ultimate decision—confirming our arguments are compelling examples of quality and accuracy.