Dallas & Plano Criminal Appeal Lawyer

Board Certified Criminal Appeals Lawyer

In 2011 the Texas Board of Legal Specialization designated a new specialty area - Criminal Appellate Law. Adam Seidel was in the first group of 84 Texas lawyers and judges who were awarded board certification in this specialized area of law practice. Adam Seidel's appellate experience includes oral arguments before the nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, the Fifth Circuit, and several state intermediate appellate courts including the Dallas Court of Appeals. He has filed appeals in numerous jurisdictions, including the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Seidel has successfully represented clients in a wide variety of post-conviction proceedings, including federal appeals.

What is a Criminal Appeal?

An appeal is a request to a higher court to review a decision made in a completed trial or court proceeding. After a trial or proceeding is completed, there are specific grounds which may apply such that the trial court judge can vacate the decision and order a new trial. If the judge denies such request, the defendant may appeal to the appropriate Court of Appeals.

What do the Courts of Appeal decide?

The Courts of Appeal can decide questions of law, such as whether the trial judge applied the law correctly in a particular case. The Courts of Appeal do not hear testimony or retry cases. Instead, an appeal from a trial court judgment is decided based on the record from the original trial or proceeding. Issues brought to a Court of Appeal for review commonly include claims such as an incorrect ruling on admissibility of evidence, incorrect application of a law or regulation, improper jury selection or instructions, and insufficient evidence to support the verdict. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel can be asserted in certain circumstances.

How does the Appeal Process work?

To begin the appeal process, a written notice of appeal must be timely filed. In criminal cases, transcripts of the underlying proceedings must be prepared by the official court reporter. All parties are notified once the trial record on appeal has been filed with the Court of Appeal. From the date the record was filed, the appealing party has a specified period of time within which to file an appeal brief. A "brief" is a written argument that an attorney prepares for the appellate court. It details the issues raised by the appellant, including challenges to trial court rulings or findings, and refers to applicable statutes and previous case decisions to support their position. The other side is then given an opportunity to file a responsive brief.

Once the briefs have been filed the case is randomly assigned to a panel of justices. In some cases, an oral argument may be scheduled. Oral argument gives the attorneys for both sides a chance to argue their positions, and gives the appellate judges an opportunity to ask the attorneys questions concerning the legal issues raised.

Several weeks after oral argument, a member of the panel prepares and files an opinion, which is a written statement of the court's decision.

In state appeals, decisions of the Courts of Appeal can be subject to discretionary review by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin. In federal cases, further discretionary review is by the United States Supreme Court for decisions based on the U.S. Constitution and federal Statutes.

What is a Writ?

In most modern American jurisdictions, a "writ" is an order from a higher court to a lower court or to a government official such as a prison warden. Defendants may seek several types of writs from appellate judges directed at the trial court or at a lower appellate court. Writs, like appeals, are complex and involve picky details. Certain deadlines and rules can apply that are strictly enforced by appellate courts. Defendants facing situations where they may be entitled to relief via a writ should consult counsel.

What's the difference between a writ and a direct appeal?

Writs usually are considered to be extraordinary remedies, meaning they are permitted only when the defendant has no other adequate remedy, such as an appeal. In other words, a defendant may take a writ to contest a point that the defendant is not entitled to raise on appeal. As a general rule, this applies to issues that are not apparent in the record of the case itself (such as when an attorney fails to investigate a possible defense).

Filing a writ that simply mimics an unsuccessful direct appeal is a frivolous writ and will be dismissed immediately.

Potential Post-conviction Remedies

As discussed in this article, convicted defendants can take a number of steps to challenge guilty verdicts and/or to correct violations of constitutional rights, including motions, direct appeals and writs. A defendant who loses at one may go on to the next step, all the way down the list (up the legal chain) in a process that can take many years -- especially for serious felonies such as death penalty cases.

As a general rule, defendants in state court cases usually must first have unsuccessfully sought relief through the available state remedies before they will be allowed to seek relief in federal courts. For these reasons and because of the complexities of these proceedings and what is at stake, defendants should consult counsel to determine which remedies are available to them.

To explore whether appellate relief may be available, contact Adam Seidel by filling out a form on this website, or call 214-528-3344 (Dallas) or 972-312-1212 (Plano) today to schedule a consultation.