Appellate Law

In any legal case—civil or criminal—someone wins and someone loses. Some judges, many lawyers and most mediators will often tell parties to a civil case that no one “wins.” Everyone compromises, and the law rarely provides clear victories. It provides relief; it seeks justice but does not—and cannot—always achieve it. Parties in criminal cases also understand the art of compromise. Many times—in exchange for a guilty plea—a prosecutor will agree to drop certain charges and will recommend a certain sentence.

In many other cases, however, there is no compromise. Parties to a lawsuit take positions, right or wrong, and they will not budge. A trial is had, and the judge or jury sides with one party. The other party loses, and it does not feel good.

If you have been a party to civil or criminal litigation, then you know what losing feels like. You have been through the ups and downs of discovery, pretrial hearings and motions, preparing for trial and then having the trial continued and then continued again… and then again. Then your day in court arrived, you put on your evidence, your attorney attacked the credibility of your adversary’s witnesses. In sum, you put up a valiant fight. Truth and—you believed—justice were on your side.

You still lost.

What can Arnold & Smith, PLLC do for you?

The lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are experienced at fighting for clients who lost their cases at the trial level. In general, when defendants in criminal cases are convicted and sentenced in Superior Court, they may appeal their conviction and sentence to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Even if the Court of Appeals rejects an appeal, a defendant may seek relief from the North Carolina Supreme Court or—if the case involves certain issues—the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court.

Whether you are a plaintiff who has brought a civil lawsuit against a person or company for damages as a result of intentional or negligent conduct, or whether you are a defendant who has defended oneself against such a suit, the lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help you determine whether any errors were made in trial court that led to the adverse result in your case.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC has been retained by parties to both civil and criminal actions who believed the judgment of the trial court was in error. When a party seeks assistance on appeal, the first thing our team of experienced appellate attorneys does is analyze the proceedings in trial court to determine whether any errors of law or procedure were made. Lawyers, prosecutors, judges and juries are responsible for adhering to certain rules both inside and outside of the courtroom. If these rules were not followed, the ruling against a party may have been obtained in error. We are experienced at identifying these errors and at fighting on clients’ behalf to correct them on appeal.

Judges have a lot on their plate, and they are expected to keep up with laws, rules and concepts that are constantly changing and evolving. It may come as no surprise to learn, then, that sometimes judges make rulings that are in error. When and if they do, we can cite the error and bring it to the attention of an appellate court. The appellate courts have the power to reverse a judge’s ruling. They also have the power to reverse a person’s criminal conviction—even a person who was convicted by a jury.

Handling an appeal is a very complex process, but the lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are well-versed in the rules and procedures involved and are eager to assist those who believe justice was not served in a court of law.