The Paralegal’s Role in the Appellate Process

The Paralegal Resource
August 7, 2013 — 5,545 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

In law, the procedure of requesting that a formal change be made to an official decision is termed as an appeal. In its broadest sense, there are two types of appeals – de novo appeals and on the record appeals.

The de novo appeals are those where a new panel of decision makers tends to an old case, without any reference to the previous decision that had been taken. Appeals on the record, on the other hand, challenge the decision of the previous decision maker. The arguments usually put forward for such a request can be anything like misapplication of law by the decision maker, or that the decision maker was biased, came to an incorrect decision, did not consider important evidence he should have considered, or he took undue advantage of his or her powers, and acted outside his or her jurisdiction.

The Outcome of the Appellate Process

In the litigation process, an appeal can garner any of the following three outcomes:

  • Affirmed – The higher court which reviewed the case, agrees with the lower courts ruling.
  • Reversed – The higher court which reviewed the case, disagrees with the ruling of the lower court.
  • Remanded – The higher court sends the case back to the lower court for review.

The result of the appellate process does not have to be either of the three. It can be a mixture of these outcomes. The higher reviewing court may remand the case, affirm some of the lower court’s rulings and reverse other portions of the ruling, all at the same time.

There is also a fourth outcome of the appellate process. The case where a higher court grants improvident review. The outcome of this situation is effectively the same as that of the lower court’s ruling being affirmed for in these situations the higher court reviews the case but chooses not to say anything about it. The ruling of the lower court thus stays, without the stamp of an additional review by a higher court.

A paralegal’s role in litigation, particularly in the appellate process can be broadly classified in three categories. They are case management, record on appeal, and preparation of the appeal.

Roles in Case Management

  • Maintaining all documents and information on open appeals.
  • Developing a library attributing to court rules and administrative information as well as maintaining them.
  • Handling all forms of correspondence between the co and opposing counsel, clients and courts, and arranging for time extension by letter, phone, or motion.

Roles Pertaining to the Appeal Record

  • Reviewing the file from the trial court .
  • Preparing a list of documents constituting the appeal’s record and arranging for models, visual aids and other documents that would be used in courtroom oral arguments.

Preparation of the Appeal

  • Drafting the appeal notice and the factual section of the appeal summary,
  • Shepardizing all cases mentioned in the appellate brief.
  • Preparing all the exhibits referred in the brief and confirming the accuracy of reference.
  • Preparing the table of authorities for all citations of the brief.
  • Researching and drafting application of attorney’s fee.

The Paralegal Resource