New Haven Appeals Lawyer
At Billings & Barrett, our New Haven appeals lawyers handle cases at all levels of our courts, including the Connecticut Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court. If you decided to take your case to trial and the outcome was not in your favor, you still have rights you can pursue.
There may have been decisions made by the trial court that violated your constitutional rights. The trial court may have admitted evidence that should not have been presented during trial. Perhaps the trial court should have suppressed certain evidence but failed to do so. The prosecutor may have engaged in prosecutorial misconduct throughout the trial and during the closing argument. The court may have improperly instructed the jury on the law. The state may not have proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
These are just a few examples of claims that can be brought during appeal. You have the right to challenge your conviction and the New Haven criminal attorneys at Billings & Barrett can assist you with such matters and continuously to fight for you.
Our appeals attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and dedication to ensure that your appeal presents the strongest argument to the court. Our attorneys understand that your livelihood is at stake and will do everything in their power to restore your rights through the appellate process.
Types of Appeals
In Connecticut, there are direct appeals and collateral appeals. A direct appeal is an appeal of a criminal trial to the Connecticut Appellate or Supreme Court. This appeal challenges decisions made during the actual trial itself. For instance, perhaps the court admitted evidence that it should not have, or the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a direct appeal, no new evidence is presented to the court. Instead, the appeal is based solely on the materials in the record (any motions that were filed, the clerk’s file, and the transcripts.) This type of appeal is the most common.
A collateral appeal is actually a completely new civil case that attacks the criminal conviction on other grounds. Because this is an entirely new case, you and your New Haven appeals attorney have the opportunity to present new evidence. The most common collateral appeal is a habeas appeal (the proper name is actually a Writ of Habeas Corpus.)
In a habeas appeal, the claim will often be that the trial attorney was ineffective. For example, the trial attorney may have failed to investigate your defense thoroughly or failed to adequately cross-examine a witness.
The Appeals Process
The first step is to file the “Appeal.” This is simply a document (pdf) that is filed with the clerk and it notifies the court that you intend to appeal your conviction. This must be done within 20 days of the judgment being entered. In unique circumstances, it is possible to obtain a 20-day extension.
Once the Appeal is filed with the court, there are several documents that must be filed with the appellate clerk. For example, you or your New Haven appeals lawyer must file the Preliminary State of Issues, Preliminary Designation of Pleadings, Designation of the Pleadings, Statement Re: Transcript, and a Docketing Statement.
Along with the Appeal, the defendant must also file a transcript order request. This is very important because the burden is on the party bringing the appeal. In other words, we must provide the court with all the transcripts from the trial. Without these transcripts, there is no “record” to review.
Once we make the request, we must wait for the transcripts to be completed. The time it takes the transcripts to be completed varies on a case-by-case basis. It depends on numerous factors such as the length of the trial, whether the jury selection portion needs to be ordered, and whether that particular court reporter is busy with other transcripts. While we are waiting for the transcripts, we obtain a complete copy of the clerk’s and defense attorney’s file. We use these materials to determine what motions were raised at trial and which could be good appellate issues.
Next Steps After Filing An Appeal
Once we receive the complete transcript, the clock starts running. From that time we have 45 days to file the brief. In most cases, however, we will require additional time, and as a result, file motions for extensions of time. Once we receive the transcripts, the initial step we take is to review the entire transcript searching for issues that we can present on the appeal.
After your New Haven appeals lawyers complete the review of the transcript and clerk’s file, we create a list of any and all issues that we could raise on appeal. We then begin our initial research to determine the strength of each issue and whether it is one that should be pursued in the appeal. This is extremely important because the brief that will be submitted is, in general, limited to 35 pages.
At that point, we will determine the issues to present in the brief and begin the in-depth research into each issue. We will also begin drafting the brief itself. The brief is a written argument that is presented to the court and contains a cover page, table of contents, statement of issues, table of authorities, and the argument portion outlining your legal claims.
Once the brief is completed it will be copied, bound, and delivered to the appellate court and state’s attorney. At that point, the state will write its brief. This usually takes an additional three to four months. Once the state files its brief, we have the opportunity to draft a reply brief, which is also submitted to the court.
Oral Appeals Argument
After our reply to the state’s brief is submitted, we must wait for the court to schedule the case for an oral argument. The time frame varies widely depending on the number of cases before the court and when the briefs were submitted. At oral argument, each side is provided an opportunity to present their arguments to the judges. The judges may decide to ask numerous questions (this is known as a hot bench) and, in other cases, they may not ask any questions at all (this is known as a cold bench.) Unfortunately, if you are incarcerated at the time of the oral argument, you do not have the right to be present at the court during this time.
Following the oral argument, the court will release a written decision. This can take several months or over a year depending on the complexity of the issues, the number of issues presented, the number of decisions before the court and numerous other factors. The potential outcomes vary depending on the claims pursued on appeal.
If the appeal is successful, the charges may be dismissed altogether, a new trial may be ordered, or it may be remanded back to the trial court. If the appeal is unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal to a higher court. For example, if your appeal was heard in the Connecticut Appellate Court, you could request that the Connecticut Supreme Court hear the case (this is done by filing a Petition For Certification.) No matter what the outcome, your New Haven appeals lawyer will be with you every step of the way.