When it appears that the judge made an error of law at a trial or other proceeding, the most direct form of relief is to file an appeal to a higher court.
If the court denied your motion to suppress, or if you were found guilty after trial, there might still yet be hope in a direct appeal. The Appeals Court has the power to overturn erroneous decisions of the trial court. The Appeals Court is comprised of 25 justices. A panel of three justices will be assigned to your case. An adverse ruling before the three judge panel opens the door for review by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Each of these justices have one thing in common: they demand the utmost preparation and professionalism from attorneys. Total mastery of the law, and the refined oral advocacy skills necessary to demonstrate the injustice which occurred in your case, are required.
SIDEBAR 1: If you would like to read our amicus curiae brief, which we filed with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, click here.
SIDEBAR 2: To read our brief in a case of ineffective assistance of our client's previous lawyer, click here. To review the appeals court decision, click here. To read the trial court's ruling on the merits, click here.
The appeals process is long and complex. It begins with a thorough review of documents from the lower court, continues through an exhaustive review of precedent, statute and other sources of applicable law, and ends with a meticulously crafted appeal brief and an oral argument before a panel of three Appeals Court justices.
The process begins with an exhaustive review of everything that occurred in the lower court. An attorney must review all motions, the transcripts of the motion hearings, the trial transcripts, the exhibits and other evidence, and the decisions of the judge. Each and every page must be analyzed, leaving no stone unturned. Reviewing these materials will reveal whether the lower court made any errors of law. If viable appellate issues exist in your case, the attorneys at Erkan & Associates, LLC will find them.
After identifying potential issues, the research process begins. An appeal typically involves a comprehensive vetting of all existing case law pertaining to a particular subject. This is a time consuming, labor intensive task that requires hours of focus and diligence. A lawyer must fully understand the history of the legal issues involved, and the treatment of those issues by the Massachusetts high courts and the highest court of other jurisdictions. Only then can a lawyer craft an effective appeal brief.
Writing the appeal brief is the next and most important step. Limited to 50 pages, an appeals brief should contain an accurate, persuasive statement of the factual and procedural background of the case. More importantly, the brief must contain a compelling analysis of the law and how it applies to your case. This is where research pays off. By fully understanding the law on a particular subject, a successful advocate can show the justices where the lower court went astray, and why it is important to correct the error.
Finally, the process ends with the oral argument. The Appeals Court gives you fifteen minutes to make your case. As you begin your argument, a clock begins counting down. As each precious second ticks away, the justices fire questions at you. A successful advocate will be prepared to directly address the justices' concerns. This is why it is so important to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the relevant area law – no one can predict what direction the conversation will go in.
The lawyer must be prepared to discuss whichever aspects of the case the justices find most interesting or important. You only get one shot at this argument, and the hearing ends when the clock reaches zero, whether you reached all the topics you wanted to discuss or not.
The only way to prepare for these 15 intense, important minutes is diligent study. The attorneys at Erkan & Associates, LLC thrive in these high pressure situations. Like pugilists training for a title fight, the professionals at Erkan & Associates, LLC begin training for the oral argument months in advance, vetting their prior, meticulous research, following the law to the farthest corners of the internet and the law library.
Your appeal is your last chance, and the odds are against you. The attorneys at Erkan & Associates will tirelessly dedicate themselves to you in order to make the most of your last chance to win your case.