Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Finding an Appeals Lawyer


Many trial attorneys are primarily fact attorneys. They litigate which facts come in and which facts stay out. They frame the facts in the light most favorable to them. Appellate attorneys, on the other hand, are primarily law attorneys. A lawyer for your appeal must focus on the law. That is why many trial attorneys do not make good appellate attorneys.  CLICK HERE for information about Warnken, LLC’s appeals practice.

Winning Your Maryland Appeal

To prevail, on appeal, in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, all of the following must have happened:

(1) The trial judge must have been called on to make a legal ruling (as opposed to when the trial judge should have been called on to make a legal ruling, but was not).

(2) Trial counsel’s argument as to why the trial judge should have done something, or should have done something differently, must be made for the correct legal reason (as opposed to trial counsel making the “right” request for the “wrong” reason).

(3) The trial judge must actually make a legal ruling (as opposed to “should have” made a ruling, but did not make a legal ruling, or made a legal ruling, but the ruling was ambiguous, and without a requested clarification by trial counsel).

(4) The trial judge must have been legally incorrect in his or her legal ruling (even when it is arguable that the judge was legally incorrect, many “events” at the trial level come within the broad umbrella of “the court’s discretion” and are “forgiven” by the appellate court as not being an “abuse of discretion”).

(5) The attorney must have objected to the trial judge’s ruling (without “preservation” of the issue by trial counsel, the appellate court will not address the issue).

(6) For the “winning” issue to “win,” the appellate court must decide that there error was prejudicial error and not harmless error.

Overturning the Trial Judge

Most of the trial judge’s legal rulings are found in the following places:
(1) rulings on pre-trial motions;
(2) voir dire rulings on “for cause” challenges and “peremptory” challenges;
(3) rulings on objections made during the State’s opening statement;
(4) evidentiary rulings throughout the entire trial regarding evidence that the judge will permit into the record and evidence that the judge will not permit into the record;
(5) a ruling on a motion for judgment of acquittal, if made with particularity, both at the close of the State’s case and at the close of the entire case;
(6) granting requested jury instructions, refusing to grant requested jury instructions, and the actual instructing process;
(7) rulings on objections during closing argument;
(8) the verdict sheet;
(9) responses by the trial judge to juror questions directed to the judge during jury deliberations;
(10) the taking of the verdict(s); and
(11) sentencing, if it is a criminal appeal.

Warnken, LLC – Appellate Attorneys

For companies or individuals going on appeal, it is essential to find real appellate counsel. For attorneys who claim to be competent appellate attorneys, put them through the following test: First, require any prospective appellate attorney to produce the “appellate briefs” that the attorney filed in three federal or state criminal or civil appeals during the last five years. “Appellate briefs” means both the Appellant’s Brief and the Reply Brief and not just the Appellant’s Brief. Second, require any prospective appellate attorney to produce the appellate court’s opinion in at least one of the three cases, proving that they won. Either the conviction was overturned on that appeal, or a judgment was overturned or upheld, depending on the party’s position. Third, require any prospective appellate attorney to confirm, with names, that that are at least two appellate attorneys in the law firm.

Warnken, LLC has been involved in over 200 appeals in the last 30 years. These include both civil appeals and criminal appeals. They have been in Maryland state appeals courts, as well as in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th circuits. In addition, Warnken, LLC has been before the Supreme Court on six occasions.

Please contact us directly via phone to discuss your appeal. 443-921-1100.