Appeals

Since the opening of my practice, I’ve concentrated on appeals, obtaining my first successful reversal in 1999. I’m a member or the Appellate Practice Committee and have brought appeals to the Appellate Division, the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Appeals are expensive, time-consuming, and complex. They involve showing that a trial judge made an error that resulted in an injustice – an appellate court isn’t there to provide a “second bite at the apple” and do not determine the facts the case. They are courts of review. Handling an appeal is an art form like no other. I’ve developed a win rate of nearly 80%, which is extraordinarily high, as I dedicate the time and effort necessary (and am selective about which cases I take on appeal).

Seeking review from the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey involves:

  • Reviewing the trial court submissions (motions, brief, attachments, evidence)
  • An in-depth review of the trial transcripts to determine whether there was judicial error. More than once, I’ve caught issues that a client didn’t initially see as grounds for reversal.
  • Conducting legal research on the issues

After this initial review:

  • A notice of Appeal is e-filed (now mandatory) with the Appellate Division
  • Within 45 days (unless extended), an appellate brief and appendix are filed. These are generally monumental projects.
  • Crafting the arguments, drafting the preliminary statement, framing the facts and evidence, revising and editing are not simple prospects if one intends on winning.
  • Within 30 days thereafter, the adversary files their opposition brief, which is also usually a substantial document (and more so if there is a cross-appeal).
  • Within 30 days thereafter, a Reply Brief is filed addressing the other side’s arguments.
  • The case is then argued.
  • A decision is then received anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months later.

Appeals are obviously expensive as they are time and labor intensive. Between the legal fees, filing fees, costs of the transcripts, appendix printing and binding fees, the least expensive appeal I’ve handled cost $4,550. The most expensive was $42,575.

Generally, unless there is an obvious error and no in-depth review of the record is required, there is a $1500 retainer to review the file and transcripts and give an opinion as to whether an appeal will probably be successful. Depending on the complexity of the issues, if we decide the odds of success are sufficiently high, the retainer for an appeal is then between $7,500 and $15,000.

A sample of appellate pleadings, briefs, and other documents are available here: www.dpdlaw.com/appeals