One of the cornerstones of Christensen & Jensen’s practice is our appellate practice. Our appellate attorneys have handled hundreds of appeals before the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and other courts. Our appellate attorneys also handle appeals from administrative agencies, and provide pre-appeal consultation, including trial support to identify and minimize appellate issues.
Appellate practice requires different and additional skills and strategic considerations than mere trial practice. On appeal, the focus of a given case often shifts from developing and proving facts (through discovery, examining witnesses, and trial) to the legal issues that decide the case. As a result, an individual, corporation, or otherwise, wishing to appeal needs a group of attorneys that can properly formulate the issues in a meaningful way for an appellate court. This means that an appellate attorney must be able to conduct conducts thorough legal research; analyzes the legal issues in light of the rule-making and policy considerations that shape the development of law; and then presents the facts and those issues and arguments selected for appeal concisely in a persuasive appellate brief.
The significance of a well-written appellate brief cannot be overstated. This is because appellate briefs receive greater judicial scrutiny than written materials prepared at trial. Appellate briefs are reviewed by a panel of judges, rather than a single judge, along with those judges’ larger legal staff, under comparatively less time pressure than exists in the trial court.
After the appellate briefing is completed, generally an oral argument is scheduled to allow for an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the appellate judges regarding the issues in the case. Effective appellate attorneys, must key their oral advocacy to the unique concerns of the appellate forum. Appellate attorneys should be mindful to avoid emotional or fact-based pleas that may play well before a jury. Instead, effective appellate attorneys should focus on the dispositive legal issues, being sure to answer the judges’ questions, which can provide a roadmap for where a given judge might see the appeal going.
In addition to their practice in appellate courts, appellate attorneys play an important role in the lower trial courts. Appellate attorneys often collaborate with trial counsel on strategic and tactical matters to raise all applicable arguments and make the appropriate trial record, identifying and preserving legal issues as they arise and crafting effective motions on substantive legal issues – before, during, and after trial.
Christensen & Jensen’s appellate attorneys have enjoyed high rates of success in the Utah appellate courts, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Because our appellate attorneys are also trial lawyers, they are uniquely positioned to evaluate and handle a case from beginning to end. Some firms may only handle trials or appeal, which can oftentimes blunt the sight of the attorneys involved. Christensen & Jensen prides itself on its ability to see a case from all perspectives, whether at the trial court level, the court of appeals level, or the supreme court level.