At HenterLaw, we represent people on appeal to federal and state courts for virtually any type of appeal, including: criminal cases, sentencing issues, civil rights and discrimination cases, family law cases, civil and commercial litigation, personal injury appeals, habeas corpus proceedings, post-conviction and other post-trial support.
Why Hire A New Lawyer on Appeal?
Appellate lawyers are often asked why someone would want a new lawyer on appeal. After all, the trial attorney is already familiar with the case. At HenterLaw, however, we believe that appellate practice requires a very different legal approach than at the trial level. In a trial court, a lawyer focuses on balancing hundreds of little details. He or she will work on getting evidence admitted and often make emotional arguments to a judge or jury. This is precisely what a good trial lawyer does, but this is not a very successful method on appeal. Although we work with your trial lawyers to review what happened in the trial to make the very best arguments we can on appeal, a different set of skills is needed.
One thing that an appellate attorney can always bring to a case is a fresh, unbiased look at any case. Just like the appellate judges, an appellate lawyer will review the trial record and base his or her appellate tactics on the record only, and not on any arguments that could have been made. In this respect, the most crucial aspect of an appeal may be extensive research and careful appellate brief writing. At HenterLaw, this is the kind of careful attention that we provide to every appellate client.
On appeal, a lawyer must know the specialized court procedures and rules (and deadlines) to avoid the many traps and pitfalls that have captured many a trial lawyer. In addition, an appellate lawyer must spend hours delving into research and craft a brief that will persuade a group of experienced judges (who have their own research teams) to rule in favor of his or her client. The arguments in a brief are not the emotional ones that can win the day at trial.
On appeal, a case is all about reviewing what happened in the trial court, researching the law, understanding subtle difference in legal opinions, tracking legal trends throughout the country, and then turning all that work into a concise, persuasively written brief. Judges expect and demand an academic discussion of the law but also one that at the same time has passion and is logically persuasive. It is this unique combination of heightened research and writing skills that makes a lawyer effective on appeal.
Mr. Henter remembers when he was hooked on appellate practice—his first case. He was just two years out of law school, and the United States Court of Appeals appointed him to his first appellate case. After pouring over the documents, researching habeas corpus law (an area of law new to him at the time), and writing his appellate brief, he was pleasantly surprised when the opposing lawyer called him to say that she agreed with his brief and his arguments. Apparently, after reading his brief, the opposing lawyer was persuaded that mistakes had been made, and the case was sent back to the trial court. Mr. Henter’s first appeal resulted in his first appellate victory.
Mr. Henter is the first to admit that appeals rarely follow this path and there are never any guarantees about results or how an appellate court will rule. However, his first appeal underscored how crucial extensive research and careful appellate brief writing can make all the difference on appeal.
Mr. Henter has been an Adjunct Professor of Law since 2003. There are very few lawyers in the country who can say that they were chosen by a top law school to teach its students a substantive law course, and an even smaller number were chosen when they were in solo practice like Mr. Henter. If your case should be heard before the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Virginia Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, or the Supreme Court of the United States, we can help. Mr. Henter also continues to take court-appointed cases in federal court.
When people contact us, they often ask us about their chances on appeal. It is impossible to answer that question without reviewing court documents and transcripts to determine what happened procedurally and factually in the trial court. For a nominal fee, HenterLaw can evaluate your case and assess the legal merits of an appeal. Please contact us at (434) 817-1840 or on this page about our appellate practice.
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