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

Maryland Appeals

4 Things to Know about Maryland Appeals

Appeals aren’t a “re-do” of the trial

On appeal, you can’t bring in new facts, there is no jury, and the appeals court will only listen to arguments pertaining to a specific question or set of questions about the case. Almost always, the determinations of facts at the trial level are the facts that the appeals court will accept as true for purposes of the appeal. Appeals cases require arguments based on the application of the law to the trial court’s version of the facts. The question to ask is, “Even if the trial court got the facts wrong, should the client be entitled to a reversal or remand based on the law?”

Appeals aren’t about facts

You can’t win an appeal just because the facts are on your side. Appeals are about legal errors of the trial court, not factual errors. For example, you can’t win an appeal by saying, “This videotape shows that my client didn’t rob the store;” but you can win an appeal by saying, “A robbery conviction requires showing that something was stolen and that the defendant knew he was stealing something, but the trial judge only told the jury they needed to find something was stolen.”

Appeals are about writing

Many people think that most what wins a case goes on in a courtroom. The truth is, attorneys always submit a written presentation of their argument to the judge before the appeal begins. These written arguments can be the only part of the appeal sometimes, as appellate judges don’t always hear oral arguments. The judges may choose merely to look over the memos submitted by each side to determine the outcome of the appeal. When picking an appellate attorney, make sure that she knows how to write.

Getting more than one appeal is extremely difficult

In the Maryland state court system, there are two courts above the trial level: the intermediate level appellate court (Court of Special Appeals) and the supreme appellate court (Court of Appeals). Criminal cases are entitled to one appeal as a matter of right, but appeals by the Court of Appeals are incredibly rare. It is important to make sure you make the most of your first appeal, because you are unlikely to get another shot.

About the Authors:
Warnken, LLC is a Maryland law firm handling Maryland Appeals and Federal Appeals.  The Firm has been a part of nearly 250 appeals in the 20 year history.  The Firm’s founder, Byron L. Warnken, Esq. is a professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.  He teaches criminal law and constitutional criminal procedure.  In the past, he has taught various other courses.  He was the founder of the LARW program.  Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing.