Appeals: Starting Strong

by | Oct 17, 2020

When “Try, Try Again” Isn’t The Best Option: Appealing Correctly The First Time

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This phrase encourages us to remain steadfast in our goals when things do not go as planned, but it does not serve as sage advice for the beginning procedural steps in the appellate process.

Trial attorneys unfamiliar with the appellate process, or clients proceeding pro se, may be overly confident in thinking they have “checked all the boxes” required to move their case forward. That confidence is natural for those who have done all the trial work and feel they themselves are the best position to move forward with an appeal.

However, if an appeal is not done correctly the first time, you run the risk of having your appeal dismissed or paying much more down the road to reverse errors made upfront in the appeal. For example, if a notice of appeal is not filed and served in a timely manner, there is the likelihood it will be dismissed. Once an appeal has been dismissed for untimeliness, the only avenue to revive the matter is by filing a petition for writ of certiorari. Relying on a writ of certiorari as a safety net in case proper procedure is not followed is a very risky bet for appellants; there is no guarantee the court will grant the petition.

Even if the case is not dismissed, the cost incurred later to hire appellate counsel to untangle an improperly-filed appeal could be much greater than hiring an appellate attorney from the outset of the appeals process. An experienced appellate attorney knows each step necessary to avoid dismissal of an appeal, including ensuring the notice of appeal is served and filed in a timely manner, the transcript is prepared, and the record is complied.

The Law Office of Mark L. Hayes is in a unique position as one of a small number of firms in North Carolina that practices solely in appellate law. Mr. Hayes has represented clients on appeal in over one hundred cases at all levels, including the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States. With years of experience in appellate matters, Mr. Hayes is poised to handle appeals from their inception to make sure your appeal begins smoothly the first time.

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