Navigating the Maze: Federal vs. State Appeals Unveiled

Discover the critical differences between Federal vs. State Appeals. Learn about case types, procedures, and how Strickland Webster, LLC can guide you through the appeals process.

Appeals at the Federal vs. State Courts

The United States has a dual court system consisting of both state and federal courts, each handling distinct cases. Federal appeals work differently from state appeals, and the US Supreme Court, which is the highest level of appeal, chooses the cases it hears. So, it’s essential to grasp the key differences.

In cases that fall under both state and federal jurisdictions, the plaintiff typically selects the initial venue for the case, but the defendant can remove the case to federal court. When appealing your case, it would be best to understand the court procedures with final appellate jurisdiction. The choice of jurisdiction will significantly impact the subsequent appellate process.

When filing an appeal, you must follow certain procedures in appellate court depending on the nature of your case. At Strickland Webster, LLC, we can help you file your appeal with the appropriate court of appeals, following the right procedures to get justice for your case.

The Basics of Appeals

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is a legal opportunity to ask a higher court to review a lower court’s decision because of specific errors made in your case trial. You can only appeal when a final ruling has been made over your case, and new evidence usually cannot be introduced in an appeal.


Types of Cases That Can Be Appealed

Not all cases are eligible for an appeal. You can file an appeal in cases where evidence was suppressed, or a specific sentence was imposed. However, you can’t just appeal because you think you are innocent. You have to show that a wrong decision was made in your case.

Examples of cases issues that can be appealed include:

  • Legal errors affecting your fundamental rights
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Evidence issues
  • Jury misconduct
  • Constitutional violations
  • Newly discovered evidence

During an appeal, the higher court will examine the transcript, evidence, and relevant documents from your trial to decide if a correction needs to be made. The appellate court at the federal or state court level can reverse a conviction, alter a sentence, or order a new trial if material errors are discovered in your trial.

Federal vs. State Appeals: Highlighting the Key Differences

Jurisdiction and Case Types

Jurisdiction refers to which court can hear a case. The United States has jurisdiction as to which court can hear appeals. State courts have a broad jurisdiction and hear everything from criminal cases to family law disputes. Some states have subject-specific courts for juvenile affairs, water, or probate cases.

In contrast, the federal courts have a narrower jurisdiction and primarily hear cases that pertain to the United States Constitution, bankruptcy, copyright, patent, maritime, and cases with parties in different states in dispute for sums over $75,000. These federal courts are established under the United States Constitution, with federal judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Your trial court typically determines the choice of jurisdiction for your case. Federal appeals for cases in the federal court system commence with the federal appeals courts. A final appeal can be made to the United States Supreme Court justices with a writ of Certiorari petition. The state appellate courts hear cases under state law. Cases in the state court system have their final appeal with the State Supreme Court. Cases with parties in different states fall under a diverse jurisdiction and can be appealed to state or federal courts.


Procedures and Timelines

At state supreme courts, each case is heard by the whole court. Once the parties have pled their claims, discovery begins at state courts. Usually, state courts are faster as they can fast-track a case. These courts also hear more cases than federal courts, but the more famous cases are usually the ones heard at federal courts because of their national importance.

The federal courts of appeals operate with three-judge panels. The panel hears your argument, asks questions, and makes a decision. The entire court of appeals for a district can review a panel’s decision through an en banc hearing. If the appellate process reaches its final stage, a petition for review can be filed with the United States Supreme Court. However, it’s vital to note that the Supreme Court selectively chooses the cases it hears. Before filing your appeal brief, you can speak to a federal appeals lawyer at Strickland Webster.

In a diversity jurisdiction where you can choose to appeal to a state or federal court, the plaintiff usually has the first choice. But the defendant always has the option of having the case removed to a federal court by filing a writ of Certiorari. If the writ is granted, the Supreme Court of Appeals at the Federal level will take the brief and listen to your oral arguments.

However, the lower court’s decision stands if the writ is not granted. Only a few Certiorari appeals to the Supreme Court get granted. If your case involves federal laws or a conspicuous error, you have a better chance of being heard by the Supreme Court. Experienced legal counsel should decide the court for your case. Involving a skilled attorney can be immensely beneficial in determining the most suitable approach.


Implications of Choosing Federal vs. State Appeals

Federal courts can hear cases concerning state laws, specifically when there are concerns about a state law’s compatibility with the federal Constitution. You can also appeal to a federal court if the conduct is illegal under both federal and state laws. However, appeals must be pursued within the state court system for cases governed solely by state law.

You can study the appeal process specific to your case if you have a state-law-only case. There are three types of appeals in Georgia. These appeals apply at different stages of the court process. Your appellate lawyers will understand the type of appeal suitable for your case. At Strickland Webster, LLC, our lawyers are experienced in Georgia State and United States Federal law, allowing us to offer professional guidance on the course of action for your appeal.

How Strickland Webster, LLC Can Help You Appeal Your Case

An appeal can be complex, lengthy, and expensive, but it is essential if an error was committed in your case at trial courts. You have to file at the proper court of appeal to avoid wasting time and resources.

At Strickland Webster, LLC, we can help you ensure that you file your appeal at the proper court of appeal with valid grounds that make your case viable. We are a team of experienced lawyers who have a successful track record in handling appeals of cases concerning Georgia state law and federal laws. We put your interests first and are open to looking through all the details of your case with fresh eyes.

Schedule a free consultation with us today!