The right to appeal an unfavorable legal decision is a fundamental part of the American judicial system. Appeals are how our justice system identifies and corrects legal, factual, or procedural errors that may have occurred at trial.
At Rudman Winchell, we recognize appellate practice involves a unique set of skills and strategic considerations. While trials focus on the human element of the case, success on appeal more often rests on well-researched, nuanced legal and policy arguments.
Our team has extensive experience handling appeals in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies. As part of a general practice firm, our team also draws upon our colleagues’ knowledge and experience practicing across all legal disciplines.
In addition to serving as appellate counsel for individuals and businesses, we also act as appellate co-counsel for attorneys seeking strategic and logistical support. We are also available to consult with trial counsel to create the necessary record for appeal and ensure that potential issues are adequately preserved for appellate review.
Common Questions & Answers
I lost at trial. Am I entitled to an appeal?
Yes. There is a general right of appeal in both criminal and civil cases in Maine. There is also a right of appeal in many municipal and administrative proceedings. Be aware that most appeals must be filed within 21 days after the judgment being appealed.
Can we—or the opposing party—present new evidence on appeal?
No. With minimal exceptions, the appeals court will only look at the trial court’s evidence. The purpose of an appeal is not to re-try the case but rather to identify and correct errors of fact or law made at trial. For example, an appeals court might conclude that the trial court misinterpreted a statute or made a factual finding that was not supported by the evidence.
How long do appeals take?
Although it is impossible to predict how long a particular appeal will take, typical appeals to the Law Court, Maine’s highest state court, take at least nine months and could take up to a year or longer.