Practice Area: Appeals   drop
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.

Representative matters include:
  • Blakely v. USAA Insurance, Tenth Circuit, (issue of fact as to whether insurance company adequately investigated claim)
  • Arnold v. Grigsby, Utah Supreme Court, (statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases)
  • United States Fidelity & Guarantee Co. v. United States Sports Specialty Assoc., 2012 UT 3, --- P.3d ---- (standard for obtaining reimbursement of conditional coverage benefits)
  • Westgate v. Consumer Protection Group, Utah Supreme Court, (disclosure requirements for arbitrators)
  • Westgate v. Consumer Protection Group (II), Utah Supreme Court, (won cross appeal on assignability of Consumer Sales Practices Act claims; constitutional parameters of punitive damages)
  • Miller v. UDOT, Utah Supreme Court, (failure to give "adverse inference" jury instruction)
  • Jones v. State Farm, Utah Supreme Court, (limitations on summary judgment on "fairly debatable" defense in insurance bad faith cases)
  • Wilson v. IHC, Utah Supreme Court, (new trial for defendant's repeated violations of collateral source rule)
  • Jenkins v. Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, 2012 UT App 1, --- P.3d ---- (interpreting “public duty” doctrine and constitutionality of governmental immunity statute)
  • Ohio Casualty v. Unigard, 2012 UT 1, --- P.3d ---- (determining method of allocating defense costs among insurers)
  • Stone Flood v. Safeco Insurance, 2011 UT 83, --- P.3d ---- (representing business in post-fire claim for business interruption losses)
  • Boyle v. Christensen, 2011 UT 20, 251 P.3d 810 (representing pedestrian struck by pickup truck; ended the defense tactic of mentioning “the McDonald’s coffee case” to juries)
  • Blakely v. USAA Casualty Ins. Co., 633 F.3d 944 (10th Cir. 2011) (representing insured in post-fire claims against insurance company)
  • Herrod v. Metal Powder Products, 413 Fed.Appx. 7 (10th Cir. 2010) (representing family of deceased driver in product liability claim)
  • Maynard v. Cannon, 401 Fed.Appx. 389 (10th Cir. 2010) (representing law firm in Fair Debt Collections Practices Act claim)
  • Jensen v. Cunningham, 2011 UT 17, 250 P. 3d 465 (state constitution)
  • Waters v. Powell, 2010 UT App 105, 232 P. 3d 1086 (Utah dog bite statute)
  • Christensen & Jensen, P.C. v. Barrett & Daines, 2008 UT 64, 194 P.3d 931 (representing firm in dispute over fee award and claims from rejection of settlement)
  • Robinson v. Mt. Logan Clinic, 2008 UT 21, 182 P.3d 333 (representing law enforcement officer shot while transporting patient of clinic)
  • Sorensen v. Barbuto, 2008 UT 8, 177 P.3d 614 (representing patient in claim against physician who breached fiduciary duty of confidentiality)
  • Ellis v. Estate of Ellis, 2007 UT 77, 169 P.3d 441 (representing spouse of deceased driver in case that eliminated the “interspousal immunity” doctrine in Utah)
  • Best v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., 2006 UT App 304, 141 P.3d 624 (representing automobile manufacturer in product liability claim)