An appeal is a process by which a party asks a higher court (such as the Colorado Court of Appeals or Colorado Supreme Court) to review the decisions of the lower court (called the “trial court”). Most final decisions by a Colorado trial court can be appealed. Appeals are conducted under strict deadlines, so having a firm grasp of any deadline to file an appeal is critical. An appeal that is filed past the deadline will be dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
Cases are not appealed just because a party is unhappy with the decisions. Unlike a trial where the evidence and facts are determined, most appeals address interpretations and applications of the law. For an appeal to be successful, there must be a legal issue to challenge that had an impact on the trial court’s decisions. Legal issues that never had an impact on the trial Court’s decision are typically dismissed as “harmless error.”
If a party is considering an appeal, they should consult with an attorney. Because appeals work with the interpretation and application of the law, many parties are shocked to hear that their case has appellate issues that they were unaware of.
Appeals are a specialized area of the law. Handling complex appeals takes a team of professionals who understand the law, its history, and who understand how to communicate with the Colorado Court of Appeals or Colorado Supreme Court. As such, a successful appellate attorney will have impeccable research and writing skills.
In addition to the research and writing skills, a good appellate attorney will be organized. Some appeals involve thousands of pages of court records that must be reduced to a few pages of legal argument. Since the appellate court will be making its decision based on the record of the lower court, the appellate attorney needs to know the underlying case and what the record includes.
At Burnham Law, we have handled appeals for a variety of cases, such as:
- Civil litigation
- Family law cases (domestic relations)
- Post-conviction criminal
- Criminal sentencing
- Administrative cases
Appeals are hard; most Colorado appeals are unsuccessful, which is why you need an attorney who has shown the ability to win at the appellate level. At Burnham Law, we have done just that; we are one of the few law firms that have consistently filed successful appeals. An example of our appellate success can be found in the published case of In re Marriage of Cerrone, 499 P.3d 1064 (Colo.App.2021).
At Burnham Law, we understand the art of appeals, and we craft legal pleadings that effectively communicate with the Colorado Court of Appeals or Colorado Supreme Court.