Appeals and Writing Services
When you lose your case at or before trial, it is not always “game over.” Our Michigan appeals attorneys will analyze your case to see if the judge made any mistakes.
If you won your case at or before trial, we will help you keep that victory.
YOU DO NOT HAVE LONG TO APPEAL! Time is of the essence. Usually, you only have three weeks to file your appeal.
Information About Appeals in Michigan
What is an appeal?
An “appeal” is when the losing side of a court case asks another court (called the “appellate court” or “appeals court”) to review the decisions made by the first court (called the “trial court”). The appeals court after the trial court is called the Court of Appeals. Sometimes, the Court of Appeals must review your case. That is called an “appeal as of right” and happens after the final order that dismisses the case. Other times, the trial court judge makes rulings in the middle of the case. If one of those rulings hurts you, you can ask the Court of Appeals to review that ruling. That is called an “interlocutory” review. The Court of Appeals does not need to do an interlocutory review, and it hardly ever does.
You can ask the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. The Supreme Court can decide not to review your case. The Supreme Court reviews very few cases. Our appellate attorneys have a high rate of success with Supreme Court applications. You can find out more about the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court here.
Do I need an attorney for my appeal?
If your family physician tells you that you need heart surgery, do you let your family physician do it? Of course not. You go to a heart surgeon. So why would you have your trial attorney handle your appeal?
Here are just a few of the benefits of using a lawyer that specializes in appeals:
- You and your Trial Attorney can focus on your trial practice. Trial attorneys jump quickly from one task to another. You are constantly bombarded by emails and phone calls. Motions are filed in your other cases, and you need to respond quickly. The nature of litigation is putting out fires. Can you really set all of that aside to spend time drafting an appellate brief?
- We save you time (which means money). Our appeals attorneys know the rules of appellate procedure. We know the deadlines that govern, and when special deadlines apply. We know what a brief needs to contain and how to format it. It could take you hours to assemble an Index of Authorities – we can assemble one in minutes.
- A second set of eyes helps. You know your case, and no one will ever know it better. You knew your case before it even was a case. You’ve lived it. But sometimes cases evolve over time, and a fresh perspective can identify additional arguments or weed out weaker arguments.
How long does an appeal take?
Appeals take a very long time – usually at least a year. The first stage is called “briefing”. This takes several months. In the “briefing”, the side asking for review (called the “appellant”) makes his or her arguments for why the trial court judge was wrong in a written document called a Brief on Appeal. Next, the side that won in the trial court (called the appellee) makes his or her arguments for why the trial judge was right. After that, nothing happens for about a year. Then both sides have the chance to go in front of the Court of Appeals’ judges and argue their case. There are three judges, who are referred to as the “panel.” We call these arguments “oral argument.” After oral argument, the Court of Appeals judges give a decision in writing called an “opinion.” Sometimes a decision is issued in just a few weeks. Other times, it takes months.
If either side does not like the Court of Appeals’ decision, he or she can ask the Supreme Court to look at the case. The Supreme Court does not need to look at any case. In fact, it reviews only a handful of the more than 2,000 cases it is asked to review each year. It can take around 12 to 18 months for the Supreme Court to decide whether it will review your case. If it decides to review, then there is more briefing and sometimes oral argument. Altogether, it can take over two years to have a decision.
What happens after an appeal?
The Court of Appeals or Supreme Court will either (i) “affirm” the trial court’s decision, meaning that the appeals court decided that the trial court was right and its decision stands or (ii) “reverse” the trial court’s decision. If the trial court is reversed, then many times it is “remanded” for further proceedings. That means that the case is sent back to the trial court. Sometimes, the appeals court gives the trial court instructions. Other times, the case continues on as it had.
What kind of cases do you take?
Hoffer & Sheremet is a boutique medical malpractice and legal malpractice law firm. As a result, the overwhelming majority of appeal cases we take are cases that help develop the law in those areas. More specifically, we generally take only appeals from medical malpractice and legal malpractice cases. However, from time to time we will accept appeals from other civil cases where the underlying cause of action is one in which legal malpractice cases are sometimes based. We do not handle criminal appeals. Very rarely, we will handle an appeal from a family court or administrative agency, but the facts of the case must be particularly compelling with a socially unjust result.
Working With Trial Counsel: Writing Services
Our appellate attorneys frequently work with trial counsel, sometimes beginning with significant trial court proceedings, such as dispositive motions, or ghost-writing significant briefs. We are available to second-chair trials, focusing on preserving and arguing legal issues, allowing trial counsel to focus on arguing the merits of the case. Whether the underlying case involves medical malpractice, legal malpractice, or other professional negligence, or whether it’s a business dispute, an issue on behalf of or against a governmental entity, or anything else, we can help.
After the matter is initially resolved at the trial court level, we are available to either appear as appellate counsel or consult with trial counsel about appellate procedure and briefing. For cases in which trial counsel is paid a contingent fee, we have flexible payment arrangements.