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Northern Virginia Lawyers Assist Clients with Federal Appeals

Attorneys with nearly 20 years of experience serve clients throughout North Virginia and D.C.

Generally, if you lose in court in the federal system, you are entitled to appeal the decision to a federal circuit court of appeals. As experienced appellate advocates, we at The Leiser Law Firm have helped numerous clients with federal civil and criminal appeals. Our lawyers understand the stakes in your case, and we know how to advocate effectively before a panel of judges.

Federal appeals process

The federal trial courts in the United States are called district courts. Two are located in Virginia: the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Appeals from decisions and orders of U.S. district courts are taken to the U.S. Courts of Appeals. The courts of appeals are divided into 13 judicial districts, each covering multiple states. Virginia falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Accordingly, all appeals taken from a federal court in Virginia are brought before the Fourth Circuit.

For civil matters, either the plaintiff or the defendant may file an appeal. In criminal matters, the defendant may always appeal a guilty verdict, but in most cases the government is prohibited from appealing a not-guilty verdict.

How to file a federal appeal

An appeal is initiated in the Fourth Circuit by filing a notice of appeal. Next, each party files a brief arguing in favor or against the appeal. Then the court hears an oral argument from each party. The Court of Appeals reviews only the record. It does not hear new evidence or testimony from witnesses. The Court of Appeals determines only if a legal error was made in the case.

Grounds for appeal

There are a myriad of legal errors that can provide grounds for filing an appeal. Commonly appealed cases in both civil and criminal federal matters may involve:

  1. Misapplication of a federal abstention doctrine — Federal courts sometimes refuse to hear a case on the grounds that it should be resolved in the local state courts. This refusal is referred to as abstention. If a federal court wrongly abstained from hearing your case, you can seek to have the Court of Appeals overturn the lower court’s decision and remand your case for a trial in federal court.
  2. Failure to properly charge the jury — In a jury trial, the judge is required to provide the jury with detailed instructions on the applicable law. Disputes often arise over the appropriate instructions that should be given to a jury.
  3. Evidentiary issues — The federal rules of evidence provide detailed rules for when and how evidence may be admitted. Because every case is unique, a district court judge must often make a tough decision about whether to admit certain evidence. If improper evidence was admitted that resulted partially or completely in a verdict being rendered against you, you may have grounds to appeal. To succeed on your appeal, you must demonstrate to the court of appeals that the evidence should not have been admitted and that its admission had a material effect on your case.

Contact a formidable team of appellate lawyers in Tysons Corner

Since 2000, we at The Leiser Law Firm have handled highly complex state and federal appeals. To find out about how our team of skilled attorneys can help you, call 703-734-5000 or contact us online. Our firm is centrally located in the heart of Tysons Corner, VA.