Q. Do you handle both State and Federal Appeals?

A. Yes. If your case went to trial at a local county courthouse, you were probably in state district or superior court.  North Carolina state cases are almost always first appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  A loss at the N.C. Court of Appeals is then appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court.

In contrast, if your trial occurred at a federal courthouse before a federal judge, your case was in the federal system.  In order to appeal a judgment taken from a federal district court in North Carolina, the party must take the case to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  This Court of Appeals is entirely distinct from the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

While this firm primarily handles cases within the state court system, it accepts federal appeals on a case by case basis.

Q: What kind of experience do you have with matters on appeal?

 A: Mark L. Hayes has practiced exclusively in appeals since opening his own private practice in 2011. Mr. Hayes has represented clients in hundreds of cases at all levels. Prior to his career in private practice, Mr. Hayes clerked in the chambers of the Honorable Chief Justice Sarah Parker at the North Carolina Supreme Court. During his clerkship, Mr. Hayes assisted the Chief Justice by working on a diverse assortment of appeals.

Q: How much time do I have to appeal? My case was dismissed, does that mean I should appeal?

 A: The general rule in North Carolina is that civil cases must be appealed with a notice of appeal within thirty days, and criminal cases must be appealed with a written or oral notice of appeal within fourteen days. However, there can be other factors in more complicated cases which can extend these deadlines, which an experienced appellate attorney can navigate. If you would like more information on this specific question, Mr. Hayes authored a presentation on the first steps of an appeal, which can be found below. This presentation presents general information only. Consult a licensed attorney to determine the applicable deadlines in your case.


Q: I do not live in Durham; can you still represent me?

A: Yes. Though Mr. Hayes’ office is located in Durham, almost every part of the appeals process is handled electronically or by mail, so very little work of the appeal needs to take place within the county where the case arose. All state appeals are handled centrally in Raleigh, so with Mr. Hayes’ office located nearby, he has the ability to represent clients statewide. In fact, Mr. Hayes has represented clients from the majority of North Carolina’s one hundred counties. Please note that Mr. Hayes does not handle social security benefit appeals, however.

Q: How would my experience differ in retaining a solo practitioner rather than a larger firm?

A: As a solo practitioner, Mr. Hayes brings an individual eye to details that could be overlooked in a larger setting. Since Mr. Hayes handles the case every step of the way, from the notice of appeal to the final decision, he is able to bring personal attention and dedication to each matter. For example, in a tricky equitable distribution and alimony case where jurisdiction was contested, a critical piece of evidence was found on the bottom of an invoice for a storage unit. Mr. Hayes found this needle in a haystack by personally compiling the record on appeal—a task which a paralegal would have probably been assigned at a larger firm.

Additionally, appellate work is not particularly high volume, allowing Mr. Hayes to work carefully and deliberately on every case. The combination of a lower caseload and being a solo practitioner also means that Mr. Hayes is personally available to answer the phone when a client calls and can return questions or concerns quickly that may otherwise go through a paralegal or phone tree at a larger firm.

Q: Do all the issues in my case get appealed?

 A: Someone deciding whether or not to appeal their case may come to Mr. Hayes with a specific idea of what was unfair or incorrect in their view about their hearing. Mr. Hayes will carefully investigate each issue a client has identified as troublesome to determine what issues may be raised on appeal. As someone who is well versed in appellate law, Mr. Hayes has the ability to recognize new issues that the client himself may have not realized could be brought up on appeal.

Q: Do you represent parties in appellate mediation?

 A: Mr. Hayes has participated in appellate mediation in the past and is always looking for ways to efficiently resolve matters for his clients. Appellate mediation can be an advantageous option for clients, since it reduces the costs associated with being involved in a traditional appeal

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