Appealing Criminal Cases
With a criminal appeal, everything is on the line. You’ve been convicted at the trial court. If you fail to act, you are going to jail or prison. But the appeal of a criminal conviction is a complex matter. You need an experienced appellate attorney to take your case because an appeal is very different than a trial.
At the Law Office of Kenneth R. White, P.C., I’m attorney Kenneth R. White, and I have appeared before the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals more than 100 times. I understand what’s at stake, and I can help.
Making A Criminal Appeal In Minnesota
You have the right to appeal your criminal conviction. The right to appeal is not a guarantee of success. All appeals are difficult, and criminal appeals especially challenging. I understand this. I know what to look for in the trial transcript, which issues are likely to be more successful, and the type of research that will be necessary to secure a reversal.
The justices on the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are smart. They work with these issues on a frequent basis; they hear arguments presented by very skilled practitioners during every session. They are very seasoned professionals at the apex of their legal careers. At the state Court of Appeals, cases are heard by three-judge panels; in the state Supreme Court, all seven justices hear the case.
An appellate court is not kind to novices or mistakes. Importantly, I have substantial experience appearing in these forums and before many of these judges. I can help you present your clients’ strongest arguments and build a compelling case for their appeal.
Strict Filing Deadlines
It is critical to speak with me as soon as possible after your trial has ended. There are strict filing deadlines in criminal matters; you only have 90 days in which to file an appeal after a felony or gross misdemeanor and 30 days to file after a misdemeanor. If you miss this deadline, your appeal is dead. There are no second chances.
No New Information
An appeal is very different from a trial. There are no witnesses or evidence. The trial transcript and record along with the appellate brief is all the judges will consider. The examination and analysis of the record are critical. I have read the transcripts of hundreds of cases. I know what must be shown to demonstrate error by the trial judge, prosecutor or trial attorney.
This is a very demanding process, as the court has seen thousands of arguments on many of these topics, and it is the skill of the attorney and persuasiveness of the arguments presented in the brief and during oral argument that will determine the outcome of your appeal.
Standard Of Review
During an appeal, you must successfully assert that the trial court committed a mistake or error on a question of fact or law. The standard of review for questions of fact is “clear error.” The court’s standard of review for the law is “de novo,” meaning the Court of Appeals reviews those questions as new. This is important because if the objections were properly raised during the trial, the judges will bring fresh eyes to those questions.
The Importance Of Reviewing The Record
As your appellate attorney, I meticulously develop the brief and arguments necessary to win the acceptance and approval of these justices. I have argued numerous cases before these judges. I am familiar with their thought processes and writing style. And they know me, which can be a valuable element when I am making a subtle or difficult point with them during oral arguments.
I Can Assist At Trial
If you are trial counsel for a challenging matter, where you anticipate the judge may rule against your position, it can be helpful to bring me in early, as co-counsel or even as an adviser. I can help to ensure that timely objections are made during the trial and preserved in the record.
Because the appellate court reviews questions of law de novo, it is absolutely essential that mistakes from these questions are properly preserved in the record. The language used in the courtroom is critical, and agreeing to a statement by the judge when an objection is made can be determinative of whether the Court of Appeals will entertain the question. I can help ensure that these issues are not lost at trial.