Everything You Need to Know About Appellate Briefs and Oral Arguments

What are appellate briefs and oral arguments? Get a complete guide from Strickland Webster, LLC, today. Call us for more information.

Appeals in Georgia

Sometimes, the scales of justice do not tip in your favor, leaving you with the need to seek recourse through the intricate world of appeals. In such moments, understanding the art of appellate advocacy becomes paramount.

An appeal, as a legal remedy, offers a second chance to examine a lower court’s judgment to ascertain whether any legal errors were made and, if so, whether you qualify for relief. The Court of Appeals, however, is bound by the trial court’s record. This constraint means parties cannot present new evidence or testimonies before the Court of Appeals. Instead, appellate decisions are made based solely on the trial court’s record, parties’ written arguments (briefs), legal principles, and, on occasion, oral arguments.

In this article, we explore the vital nuances of this intricate process, offering you a comprehensive understanding of the essential elements that shape the course of appellate proceedings.

Appellate Briefs

An appellate brief in Georgia is a formal written document that presents legal arguments, facts, and relevant case law. It outlines the judgments or orders under appeal and clarifies why the trial court’s legal decisions were erroneous. It provides a comprehensive presentation of the party’s arguments to the judges reviewing the appeal. It serves as a means to persuade the appellate court to either affirm or reverse the decision made by the lower court.

Lastly, it specifies the desired actions the appellant wants the Court of Appeals to take if it concurs that the trial court made an error.

Oral Arguments

An oral argument is a verbal presentation by attorneys before an appellate court. Unless specifically directed by the court, mandatory hearings are not required in an appeals case. Nonetheless, parties can request oral arguments from the panel of judges assigned to their case. Each side is typically given a specific time, often 15 minutes, to present their case and address any questions from the judges.

The primary purpose of an oral argument is to supplement the information in the brief and engage in a direct dialogue with the judges. It’s an opportunity for attorneys to emphasize key points and clarify complex issues. It also allows them to respond to any concerns or questions raised by the judges.

What Is the Difference Between an Appellate Brief and a Trial Brief?

Appellate and trial briefs are used at different stages of the judicial process. An appellate brief is a written document submitted to an appellate court during an appeal. A trial brief, however, is filed before or during a trial.

As noted above, appeals briefs include legal arguments, case law, and factual background. These tools convince the appellate court to uphold, reverse, or amend the lower court’s ruling. It resolves legal concerns without additional evidence or witnesses and follows a prescribed format. An appellate brief summarizes the trial court’s record and demonstrates legal flaws.

Conversely, a trial brief guides the judge and jury in the trial court. In addition to presenting legal arguments, pertinent case law, and factual circumstances, it suggests how evidence should be interpreted. Trial briefs typically address procedural issues, witness credibility, and evidence admissibility. They aim to influence the present trial rather than review a past ruling, unlike appellate briefs.

Elements of an Appellate Brief

In Georgia, as in other jurisdictions, appellate briefs typically follow a specific format and structure. Here’s a general outline of what an appellate brief in Georgia might include:

  • Cover Page: The cover page gives a general overview of your brief. This includes details such as:

    • The name of the specific court of appeals

    • The case’s caption (naming the parties)

    • The case number

    • The name of the attorney or attorneys representing the party submitting the brief

    • Any other important identifying information

  • Table of Contents: This contains a list of the major sections and headings within the brief. It also includes the page numbers where they can be found.

  • Table of Authorities: A list of the legal authorities cited in the brief, including cases, statutes, regulations, and other legal sources. Each authority is accompanied by a citation and the page number(s) where it is referenced in the brief.

  • Statement of Facts: An objective presentation of the factual background of the case drawn from the trial court’s record. This section accurately summarizes the key events, evidence, and testimony relevant to the issues.

  • Statement of the Case: A concise overview of the relevant background information and the legal issues being appealed. This section sets the stage for the arguments that follow.

Steps for Filing an Appeal

To appeal a court decision in Georgia, you’ll need to follow specific court rules. Below are the general steps involved in initiating an appeal at the Georgia Court of Appeals:

Understand the Decision

Before deciding to appeal, understand the trial court’s decision. It is also important to understand the issues and the basis for your disagreement with the decision.

Check Eligibility for Appeal

There are different types of appeals, and all court decisions are not eligible for appeal. They are generally available for final judgments or orders that dispose of the entire case. Some interlocutory orders may also be appealable under certain circumstances.

Once the eligibility for the appeal is established, the next step is selecting the proper forum for filing the appeal. In Georgia, this would entail choosing between the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia.

File a Notice of Appeal

To initiate the appeal process, a notice of appeal has to be filed with the appropriate appellate court within the prescribed deadlines. This notice will notify the appellate court and the other parties of your intention to appeal the lower court’s decision.

Obtain the Record

You need a record from the trial court for your appeal. The record typically includes transcripts of proceedings, evidence, and other relevant documents.

File the Appellate Brief

Submit your appellate brief to the court according to the specific court rules and deadlines. Provide copies to the opposing party as well.

Respondent’s Brief

The opposing party can file their brief in response to your written arguments. You may then have the option to file a reply addressing the points raised in the respondent’s brief.

Oral Argument (At the Court’s Discretion)

Some appellate courts may request oral arguments. This is where attorneys for both parties present their arguments and answer questions from the judges.

Appellate Court Decision

After reviewing the briefs, the record, and hearing oral arguments, the appellate court will decide the matter. They may affirm, reverse, or modify the lower court’s decision.

It’s important to note that the appellate court process can be complex. It typically requires a strong understanding of legal procedures and arguments. Therefore, consider consulting a federal appeals lawyer from Strickland Webster, LLC. We can help you navigate the process correctly and effectively.

Contact Strickland Webster, LLC Today!

The appellate brief and the oral argument are crucial components of the appellate process. The brief provides a written foundation for the case, while the oral argument complements it by allowing attorneys to address the court directly. It allows engagement in a dynamic conversation and persuades the judges in person.

It’s worth noting that the specific steps and procedures following an appellate court’s decision can vary. The process depends on the type of case and the nature of the appellate court’s ruling. As such, it may be a good idea to review your case with an appeal lawyer in Atlanta, GA from Strickland Webster, LLC.

If you need any other information regarding appeals in Georgia, you can contact us. Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to answer all your questions. We carefully review each case and provide you with the necessary guidance. Our lawyers can also help you follow the instructions provided by the appellate court to ensure proper compliance. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today!