Leading Law Firm Handles Complex Appeals in Arkansas
Little Rock lawyers advocate for you in civil appeals
The lawyers of Spears Butler, PLLC have the knowledge and skills needed to successfully handle complicated appellate cases at the state and federal level. Relying on more than three decades of combined legal experienced, we zealously represent clients before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Arkansas Supreme Court in a broad range of cases, with a special focus on civil rights.
Who can file an appeal?
After a civil trial, the losing party is generally allowed to appeal the decision to a higher court. Decisions made by a state or federal administrative agency can also be appealed in court. Whether your case involves a business dispute or a violation of civil rights in Arkansas, your lawyer will carefully review the entire record from the trial or agency proceeding, including the record of what was said in court. The goal is to find serious mistakes in how the law was applied to the facts of the case — often called “reversible errors.”
If you are the party who files the appeal, you are known as the “appellant.” You job is to show that the trial court or administrative agency made a legal error that impacted the resolution of your case. However, the appeals process does not give you the opportunity to retry your case from scratch. You cannot introduce any new witnesses or evidence. Rather, the court of appeals bases its decision on the record of the case established by the lower court or agency. While the appellate court may review the factual findings of the trial court or agency, it will only overturn a case if the findings were “clearly erroneous.”
The aim of the party defending the appeal, referred to as the “appellee,” is to demonstrate that the trial court or agency decision was correct. Alternatively, the appellee may acknowledge that a mistake was made but that it was not significant enough to influence the outcome of the case.
How does the appeals process work?
Appealing your case involves a lot of important rules and critical deadlines. Our experienced Little Rock appeals attorneys walk you through every step of the process.
The appeals process starts with filing a notice of appeal. Under the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the notice of appeal must generally be filed within 30 days of the entry date of the court judgment that you are appealing. Because the time limits are mandatory, you must act quickly or you will likely lose your right to appeal. In state lawsuits, the notice of appeal will be filed with the trial court and they appeal to the Arkansas Superior Court or Arkansas Court of Appeals. In federal lawsuits, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will consider your appellate case.
Once the appeals process begins, you must “designate the record.” This involves telling the court what items are to be included in the record on appeal. These typically include the trial transcripts prepared by the court clerk and court reporter.
The appeals court will then assign deadlines for both sides to file their legal briefs. The often-voluminous written documents discuss the facts of the case and all of the legal reasons why the court should either affirm or overturn the decision. There are generally three types of briefs:
- Appellant’s opening brief — The brief states what judgments or orders the you are appealing, explains why the lower court acted incorrectly in rendering its decision, details how the court’s actions injured you and recommends what the appeals court should do to rectify the error
- Respondent’s brief — As the name suggests, the brief responds to the arguments raised by the appellant and explains why they are unpersuasive. It also highlights why the lower court’s decision was proper
- Appellant’s reply brief — You are given one more opportunity to state your case by briefly addressing the arguments raised by the appellee
While some cases will be decided based solely on the written briefs, appellate courts generally allow each side to make a brief (15-minute) oral argument. The oral argument allows the attorneys for the appellant and appellee to persuade the court and answer any questions that the justices may have.
After the conclusion of oral arguments, the justices on the panel discuss the case and determine if the trial court or agency did make any legal errors and, if so, whether they were serious enough to affect the outcome of the case. Once the justices reach a decision, the court issues a ruling. In most cases, the decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Arkansas Supreme Court is the final word in a case, unless either party petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
The appellate litigators of Spears Butler, PLLC understand the complexities of the appeals process. More importantly, we know how to use what went wrong in your initial case to your advantage. Whether you are appealing a property dispute in Benton or a wrongful termination in Little Rock, we aggressively represent your interests throughout the appellate process.
Contact an experienced Arkansas appeals attorney today
It takes a skilled and dedicated attorney to purse an appeal. At Spears Butler, PLLC our seasoned litigators understand the law and advocate tirelessly on your behalf. To discuss your case, call 501.315.5297 or book an appointment on our online scheduler.