THE STATE AND FEDERAL APPELLATE COURTS

THE STATE AND FEDERAL APPELLATE COURTS

Trial lawyers use a combination of investigation, courtroom skill, and personality to convince a judge or jury to accept their clients’ version of the facts.  But the entry of judgment changes everything.  It is too late to argue that one witness was more credible than another.  Everything the trial lawyer did, or did not do, is set permanently in the record.

A panel of appellate judges will decide the case in their chambers – almost always on the strength of written arguments and that “cold” record.  They will not re-determine the facts.  Instead, their focus will be on whether the trial was fair (not perfect), whether the judge applied the law properly, and whether the appellant preserved objections.

When the reversal or affirmance of a judgment – or the emergency review of an interlocutory order – is at stake, it’s crucial to retain experienced lawyers who understand the unique role and perspective of appellate courts.

Unique Talent and Perspective
  • Focused Experience.  GMSR lawyers practice in appellate courts every day.  Not just sometimes, as most “appellate lawyers” in litigation firms do, but consistently and expertly.  That’s as true of associates as of partners.  Collectively they have hundreds of years of experience in the California Court of Appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and other federal circuits.
  • Reputation.  GMSR lawyers have been fixtures in the appellate courts for decades.  Many began their legal careers as staff attorneys or law clerks in those courts, and all have built the reputations for excellence and honesty that are essential to appellate success.
  • Creativity.  Within the constraints of the record and the law, GMSR lawyers are known for their creative approaches – mining the record for crucial facts, creating arguments premised on first principles, and finding new avenues to reach the desired result.
  • Integrity.  Integrity always matters, but in the appellate courts it is indispensable.  Judges and their staff have ample time to check every corner of the record, study the cases that litigants cite, and conduct their own research.  Courts know that they can rely on what GMSR lawyers say in a brief.
  • Fresh Perspective.  The central factual issues at trial often are not the critical issues on appeal.  GMSR lawyers know how to determine and frame the issues most likely to persuade an appellate court.
  • Effective Persuasion.  GMSR lawyers master the factual record of a case, develop complete command of the governing law, communicate fluently in the language that appellate courts understand, and deliver effective oral arguments.
A Full Range of Appellate Experience

While GMSR has extensive experience in the California and U.S. Supreme Courts, almost all appeals end one step below that: in the state appellate courts and federal circuit courts.  GMSR has walked those paths thousands of times.

  • GMSR shepherds clients through the nuts and bolts of transitioning a case to an appellate court, which isn’t a routine part of most other lawyers’ practices: whether the judgment can be stayed, whether a bond is required and for how much, and the do-or-die calculation of the appeal deadline.  When necessary, GMSR pursues writs of supersedeas and other forms of appellate stays.
  • GMSR counsels clients on the new settlement value of a case after judgment, including by assessing how the record will appear to the appellate court, the strength of existing arguments, the risk of adverse precedent, and the cost and time involved in the appeal.
  • Appellate briefing, motions and oral argument are the heart of GMSR’s practice. The firm has filed thousands of briefs and presented many hundreds of appellate oral arguments.
  • GMSR has an enviable record of success with interlocutory writ petitions seeking extraordinary relief. The firm knows how to evaluate what issues are more likely to succeed and how best to frame the need for immediate appellate relief.
NO ROOM FOR ERROR

In most cases, there’s only one chance to have a loss in the trial court reversed on appeal.  And for the judgment winner, one chance to defend the victory.

Major wins include: Celador International, Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. (9th Cir. 2012) 499 Fed.Appx. 721 (affirming $319 million judgment for breach of a licensing agreement); Wilson v. Southern California Edison Co. (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 123 (reversing jury verdict judgment holding utility liable for stray voltage); Garcia v. Holt (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 600 (affirming that landlord has no duty to discover tenant’s explosives); Stoltenberg v. Ampton Investments (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 1225 (appeal dismissed under disentitlement doctrine for opponent’s failure to comply with subpoena in related case); Sterling v. Sterling (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 185 (affirming sale of the Los Angeles Clippers over co-owner’s objection).