Rockland County Appeals Lawyer
Family law matters such as divorce cases, child custody disputes, or paternity proceedings are civil legal matters. When heard in court, they are the subject of an adversarial hearing, and the court’s ruling often favors one party over the other or might even leave both parties less than satisfied. Civil cases can be appealed from the Rockland County Family Court or Supreme Court in New City to the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, in Brooklyn. An appeal is not a new trial, but it is a way to raise important issues or errors from the trial and have those issues heard by a higher court, which can overturn or modify the trial court’s decision. New York family law attorney Robert S. Sunshine is an experienced trial court litigator and appellate court lawyer who can ably represent you in appellate practice when you or the other party files an appeal. Contact our experienced Rockland County appeals lawyer today.
How Is an Appeal Different From a Trial?
If you are unfamiliar with the law, you might think that appealing to a higher court means getting another chance to have your case heard by a different judge, but this isn’t how appeals work. An appeal is a way to argue that some mistake was made by the lower court. Rather than relitigating your divorce case, you are litigating whether or not an error was made that justifies changing the lower court’s decision.
Whereas trials involve calling witnesses to testify and bringing forward exhibits and different pieces of evidence like financial records, appeals are laser-focused on one or more points of law the attorney thinks were not applied correctly. Instead of a courtroom trial, appeals are based on written briefs submitted by each party. A brief is a thoroughly researched and well-prepared document that outlines the applicable law and demonstrates what mistakes were made. The brief will cite all applicable statutes, regulations and case decisions to support the argument made in the brief.
Many appeals are decided based solely on the briefs submitted by the parties; only less frequently does the appellate court order oral argument. In an oral argument, each party is allotted a set amount of time, such as an hour, to make their case to the justices. The justices have already read the briefs and know what the issues are, so they will interrupt the lawyer during the argument and question them about the weaknesses they see in the lawyer’s arguments. It’s up to the lawyer to convince the justices that he is right. The strengths of an appeals lawyer lie in their legal research skills, persuasive writing, and ability to make a strong persuasive argument in writing and orally when required.
What Kinds of Errors Can Be Appealed?
Appeals can be based on a mistake made during the trial regarding the facts or the law. The alleged error must be serious enough for the appeals court to want to do something about it. Not every mistake of fact or law is significant enough to be considered a “reversible” error. It’s up to the parties in their briefs and arguments to make the case whether a mistake was made and whether it justifies reversing the lower court’s decision, modifying it in some way, or sending the case back to trial for another hearing. Common mistakes that are considered worth appealing include:
- An improper ruling on an objection or motion
- Admission of evidence into court that should not have been allowed
- A witness’ testimony or other evidence was overly prejudicial
- The judge showed a bias in favor of one of the parties
- The court’s decision goes against the weight of the evidence in the case
When Can I Appeal?
In most situations, an appeal is filed at the end of a case, after a final judgment has been entered. You need to act swiftly and file your notice of appeal within 30 days of the final judgment. Some orders in a divorce case, such as setting custody, might be entered before the divorce is finalized. An experienced appellate attorney will know which orders can be appealed and when to file an appeal of a final judgment or file a motion with the court to appeal an order which has not been finalized.
Contact The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine Today
New York family law attorney Robert S. Sunshine is a veteran courtroom litigator with a robust appellate practice, and the Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. is ready to handle your appeal with the attention and focus it deserves, whether you are the party filing or responding to an appellate petition. Contact our experienced Rockland County appeals lawyer today.