Find Lawyers in San Diego, California for Appellate Practice
Practice Area Overview
Appellate practice involves different skills and strategic considerations than trial practice. On appeal, the focus shifts from developing and proving facts (through discovery, examining witnesses, and trial) to the legal issues that decide the case. Effective appellate advocacy thus demands a formulation of the issues that is focused on what is important to a panel of appellate judges deciding the case.
In formulating the issues on appeal, an appellate lawyer conducts thorough legal research; analyzes the legal issues in light of the rule-making and policy considerations that shape the development of law; and then presents the facts and those issues and arguments selected for appeal concisely in a persuasive appellate brief.
The importance of a well-crafted appellate brief cannot be exaggerated. Appellate briefs receive greater judicial scrutiny than written materials prepared at trial because they are reviewed by a panel of judges, rather than a single judge, along with those judges’ larger legal staff, under comparatively less time pressure than exists in the trial court. As one appellate court has explained, appellate work is “most assuredly not the recycling of trial level points and authorities” but instead “entails rigorous original work in its own right” and “offers counsel probably their best opportunity to craft work of original, professional, and, on occasion, literary value.” In re Marriage of Shaban, 88 Cal. App. 4th 398, 408-10 (2001).
After the appellate briefing, oral argument is an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the appellate judges regarding the issues in the case. To be effective, appellate oral advocacy must be keyed to the unique concerns of the appellate forum – avoiding emotional or fact-based pleas that may play well before a jury, but instead focusing on the dispositive legal issues, being sure to answer the judges’ questions.
In addition to the practice in the appellate courts, appellate lawyers play important roles in the trial courts. Appellate lawyers collaborate with trial counsel on strategic and tactical matters to raise all applicable arguments and make the appropriate trial record, identifying and preserving legal issues as they arise and crafting effective motions on substantive legal issues – before, during, and after trial.
Therefore, involving an appellate lawyer in a case as early as possible is important to ensure the best chance of success both at trial and on appeal.
Melanie Gold spent more than three decades as a research attorney for California appellate courts. She primarily worked with the justices of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego, but also with those of the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose as well as the California Supreme Court in San Francisco. During that time, Melanie analyzed thousands of briefs, motions, and petitions, advised justices on hundreds of appeals, and developed a deep understanding of how appellate court...
Known for being a clear thinker and articulate writer, HFM Partner John Morris uses his expertise to creatively negotiate compensation, representing plaintiffs and defendants as both appellants and respondents. Mr. Morris' practice is devoted exclusively to civil appeals, and during his nearly 38 years at HFM, he has served as lead appellate counsel in hundreds of cases in California Courts of Appeal and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. He has also appeared before the California Supreme ...
Jeremy K. Robinson - known for his analytical and perceptive approach – is Chair of CaseyGerry’s Motion and Appellate Practice. A long time CaseyGerry attorney, he is dedicated and extremely knowledgeable about all facets of the law, and works with every attorney in the firm on key legal issues, motions, civil writs and appeals. He has briefed and argued appeals in front of the first, second and fourth district court of appeals as well as the ninth circuit. Jeremy is a regular con...
Johanna Schiavoni is certified as a specialist in appellate law by the State Bar of California and has nearly two decades of appellate experience. She has argued more than 35 cases in the state and federal appellate courts, and has been the principal brief-writer in at least 90. Johanna is a leader of state and local legal associations. She was the 2020 President of the San Diego County Bar Association, which serves nearly 10,000 members of the San Diego legal community. Since 2019, Johanna h...
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