California Certified Appellate Specialist

California Certified Appellate Specialist in Tustin

Uniquely Qualified to Handle Appeals

In order to be identified as a "certified" specialist in appellate law California, an attorney must be certified either by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

California attorneys certified as specialists must pass a written examination in their specialty field, demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field, fulfill ongoing education requirements and be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with their work.

To be eligible for certification, an attorney must:

  • Have been engaged in the practice of law in the area in which certification is sought for a minimum of 25 percent of the time the attorney has spent in occupational endeavors during the previous five years
  • Be an active member of the State Bar of California
  • Pass a written exam
  • Demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field by meeting specific task and experience requirements
  • Complete at least 45 hours of continuing education in the specialty field
  • Be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with the attorney's work

If you would like to learn more about the qualifications of our California certified appellate specialist in Tustin, please reach out to us online or by calling (714) 880-8744.

Why Should I Hire an Appellate Specialist?

In California, an appellate Specialist is more than an attorney who works on appeals in his or her practice. This attorney has taken and passed a rigorous exam beyond the California Bar Exam. The specialist also must have demonstrated a high level of experience in appellate law, fulfilled ongoing education requirements, and been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his or her work.

An appeal involves different skills than those necessary for trial. An appeal is decided almost entirely based on the legal arguments presented in written briefs. High-quality research and writing skills are essential.

A trial attorney may have years of experience questioning witnesses and have a great rapport with jurors, but that same attorney may have limited experience with legal writing. Emotional arguments, which may be appropriate in a trial courtroom, have little to no impact on appellate justices, who may merely roll their eyes or even silence the presenting attorney.

Even if trial counsel has good research and writing skills, a busy trial attorney probably does not have the uninterrupted time to devote to an appeal, which often requires blocks of several days, or even weeks, of time.

Trial attorneys sometimes attempt to handle the appeal themselves, but find they have only a couple hours a day between depositions, client meetings, and court appearances to work on the appeal, which often gets relegated to nights and weekends. By focusing on appeals, we are able to devote to each case the necessary time to achieve the best possible results.

Additional Considerations for Appellants

It is important to have someone who has not been involved look at your case with a new perspective. Sometimes the trial attorney is “too close” to the matter, believing that some particular point was the most important when, in reality, a different issue is key. As a party, you may be particularly upset about something the opposing party did or something that happened before the lawsuit started which, while understandable, does not have any particular legal significance. Bringing in someone new who can look at the case from a new angle usually helps.

Also, often either the trial attorney or the client, or both, believe that a witness testified to certain facts or a judge made a particular ruling although that never “got into the record.” They may be recalling deposition testimony which was never read at trial or an in-chambers discussion that was never reported by the court reporter. However, only what is in the “record” can be used for the appeal. The appellate attorney will focus on the record, not an independent recollection of events.

As for the briefing process itself, we are familiar with the required “standards of review” by which the Court of Appeal examines different types of orders and judgments, as well as “prejudice” arguments. These often are the key to the resolution of the appeal. Retaining an attorney who is familiar with these arcane legal rules generally will result in time savings and, therefore, minimize total costs.

Finally, if you are considering appealing a criminal conviction, there is most likely a conflict of interest if trial counsel handles the appeal. Unlike civil appeals, a criminal defendant has the right to effective assistance of counsel, which may be raised either on direct appeal or in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Your trial attorney will not be in a position to argue his own ineffectiveness.

What Is Involved With an Appeal?

Appeals involve an entirely different set of procedural rules and deadlines which are traps for unwary attorneys, as well as their clients. The time deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal is unforgiving. Writ petitions routinely are denied for procedural reasons alone. If an appellate brief is not presented in the proper format, the Court of Appeal may disregard the arguments completely.

If you believe it will cost more money to hire a “new” attorney than to have your trial attorney handle the appeal, think again. Because the appeal is based entirely on the “record” rather than personal recollection, whoever is handling the appeal must read the entire record and draft a procedural and factual history based on that record. It is unlikely the trial attorney will take any less time to accomplish this task than a new appellate attorney. Indeed, because trial counsel does not regularly perform these tasks, it may take more time. Therefore, having your trial attorney handle the appeal probably will not result in any cost savings – in fact, it will probably take trial counsel more hours (billable hours, to boot) to complete the briefing than a newly-retained appellate attorney.

Why Choose Us?

  • Comprehensive Representation

    Representing both clients who have lost a case and want to appeal or a client who has won a case and is now being challenged by the opposite party.

  • Niche Specialization in Appeals

    We are one of the few certified firms whoare solely focused on handling appeals.

  • Over 30 Years of Experience!

    We have been practicing since 1989 and have handled over 1200 appellate matters.

  • Certified Appellate Specialist

    We are Certified Appellate Specialists certified in the state of California.

Special Considerations for Respondents

If you won at trial, you may be tempted not to seek out an Appellate Specialist for the Respondent’s Brief. However, there are separate benefits to having an Appellate Specialist represent you in defending your hard-earned judgment. We not only are familiar with the “standard of review” and “prejudice” arguments and can point out where the appellant is advocating based on an incorrect standard, but we also are familiar with “waiver” and “forfeiture” doctrines, which can result in an affirmance based on procedure alone.

These procedural arguments may be much stronger than the legal ones in support of your position and are especially important if you are opposing a writ petition. You deserve to defend your judgment with the maximum number of “arrows in the quiver,” which only someone who regularly practices in this area can provide.

Please reach out to our California certified appellate specialist in Tustin with any questions or inquiries regarding legal representation by contacting us online.

Our Clients Tell All

Positive Experiences

    Quick to respond, his research is the best and his writing is concise and very persuasive. You will not go wrong with John on your side.

    - Janie B.

    John excels at presenting complex legal arguments to the Court of Appeal in a manner that gives my clients the maximum chance of success on appeal.

    - Michael. F.

    I recently turned to John when I believed the trial court had made an erroneous ruling on a complicated procedural and jurisdictional question.

    - Kayleene W.

    When everything was seemingly hopeless, we were fortunate enough to come across John L. Dodd.

    - Former Client

    I was lucky to find John Dodd to be my appellate lawyer.

    - Gloria H.
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