Appellate Practice

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Our attorneys provide experienced legal representation for appellate matters in South Carolina’s state courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Whether you need to preserve issues for appeal, appeal a trial court verdict, or go to the next stage of the appellate process; we can advise, assist, and represent you every step of the way.

At both the state and federal levels, appellate practice is very different from trial court practice. There are different court rules to follow, different legal arguments to be made, and different considerations for strategically pursuing a successful outcome. Seeking to overcome a loss at the trial level – or protect a judgment in your favor – requires an in-depth understanding of appellate practice and procedure, and the ability to clearly and effectively present challenging legal arguments in the appellate setting.

At Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC, we offer extensive experience in appellate matters in South Carolina’s state courts and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. With several attorneys who are experienced in both trial and appellate practice, we are very familiar with the types of issues at the trial court level that can provide grounds for pursuing an appeal. In all cases, we take a strategic and measured approach focused on protecting our client’s interests as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Our attorneys work as a team to identify all legal arguments that have the potential for success at the appellate level.

As Peer-Rated attorneys on Martindale-Hubbell® and with recognition by Best Lawyers for 2018, we are well-known for our effective advocacy in complex civil matters. We routinely represent clients in appellate matters involving highly-complex disputes and novel legal issues, and other firms often engage our services for their clients’ civil appeals. Whether you are in need of legal representation for an appeal in state or federal court, or you are interested in engaging our services for brief drafting or oral arguments, we can use our experience to your advantage.

Types of Cases We Handle

With a team of attorneys, we maintain a broad alternative dispute resolution (ADR), civil litigation, and appellate practice focused on business-related disputes and professional license defense. Our appellate services include providing representation for matters involving:

In order to pursue a successful appeal, it is necessary to preserve certain appellate issues at the trial level. If it is not too late, we can provide advice and strategize for preserving critical issues in your case. If you have already received an unfavorable verdict, or if you are being forced to defend against an appeal in state or federal court, we can quickly assess your options and help you choose the best path forward.

Clients We Represent

We represent individual and business clients throughout South Carolina. We have long-standing relationships with many of our clients, and we regularly take on new clients including:

  • Builders and construction companies
  • Contractors and subcontractors
  • Employers
  • Insurance companies
  • Accountants, architects, engineers, lawyers, real estate brokers, and other licensed professionals
  • Other companies and individuals located in South Carolina

We are committed to using our knowledge and experience to help our clients secure just outcomes through the appellate process. Regardless of the unique circumstances of your case, we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your options for filing or defending against an appeal.

State and Federal Appeals: Answers to FAQs

Q: How is an appeal different from a trial?
Contrary to popular belief, an appeal is not a “do over” of the trial process. At trial, the factfinder (either a judge or jury) hears the evidence and then renders a decision based upon whether the preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff or the defendant. At the appellate level, the focus is not on the facts, but on the law. What legal mistakes (if any) were made at the trial court level? If a prejudicial and correctable mistake led to an unjust result, then the party negatively affected by the mistake may have grounds to file an appeal.

Q: What types of court orders can be appealed?
As a general rule, “final” orders are subject to appeal. However, while there are certain clearly-established legal principles regarding final orders, it is not always clear when an order is considered final. In addition, certain non-final (or “interlocutory”) orders can be appealed as well; and for these orders, the appellate process may need to begin before the trial process is over (known as an interlocutory appeal).

Q: How long do you have to file a civil appeal in South Carolina? In federal court?
The deadline for filing an appeal is very short at both the state and federal levels. Unlike statutes of limitations for most types of civil claims, the deadline for filing an appeal is days, not years. As a result, decisions need to be made quickly, and litigants should work closely with their appellate counsel to assess their potential arguments on appeal.

As explained on the South Carolina Court of Appeals’ website:

“For Circuit Court orders and judgments of the Court of Common Pleas, the Notice of Appeal must be served on all respondents within 30 days of receipt of written notice of the entry of the judgment or the order. It must be filed within ten days thereafter.
“For the Court of General Sessions division of the Circuit Court, the Notice of Appeal must be served within 10 days of sentencing, if the appeal is from a conviction or revocation of probation. Notice of Appeal from other orders must be served within ten days of receipt of written notice of the entry of judgment.”

For federal appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the deadlines are as follows:

“For civil cases, notice must be filed in district court within 30 days after entry of judgment (60 days if federal government a party), or within 14 days after filing of a timely notice of appeal by any other party. For criminal cases, defendant’s notice must be filed in district court within 14 days after entry of judgment or within 14 days after filing of a timely appeal by the government; the government’s notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days after entry of judgment or within 30 days after filing of a timely appeal by the defendant. See the rule for extensions based on post-judgment filings.”

Note that these are the general rules for most types of civil cases. Family court appeals, tax court appeals, and various other types of appeals have different notice and filing deadlines.

Q: What happens if an appeal is successful?
The outcome of a successful appeal depends upon the specific legal issue (or issues) involved. Only rarely will a successful appeal result in a reversal of the trial court’s verdict. In a typical case, the appellate court will render a decision identifying the error (or errors) at the lower level and remand the case for further trial court proceedings.

Q: What happens if an appeal is unsuccessful?
If an appeal is unsuccessful, the appellate court will affirm the trial court’s decision, and the parties will remain bound (at least temporarily) by the decision of the judge or jury. However, there are multiple levels of appeal in both state and federal court. So, even losing an appeal does not necessarily mean that your case is over.

Q: What are the chances of success in at the appellate level in South Carolina or in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals?
It is not possible to assess the chances of success of a particular case without a thorough understanding of the unique legal issues involved. While the appellate courts will defer to trial judges on certain matters, when a clear (and appealable) error has resulted in an unjust outcome, the appellate courts have a responsibility to use their jurisdiction to right the wrong. Due to the amount of work involved in assessing potential grounds for appeal, it is important for litigants who are contemplating appeals to begin the process as soon as possible. This is particularly true when engaging new appellate counsel.

Q: Should I retain my trial counsel for my appeal or hire a new appellate lawyer?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of different factors. For example, does your trial counsel have appellate experience? Does he or she have the time required to dedicate to your appeal? Could your appeal involve challenging a decision (or oversight) made by your trial lawyer? Your trial counsel should be able to provide an honest assessment of your best option; and if you have any doubts, you should speak with an experienced appellate attorney.

Speak with an Appellate Attorney at Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC

If you would like more information about our appellate practice in South Carolina or the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, please contact us to speak with one of our appellate attorneys. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our Columbia office at (866) 207-6209 or our Charleston office at (877) 216-6970 today.

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