Civil and Criminal Appeals Success Starts with the Right Team

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is a request to have a higher court review the trial court's decision. The appellant (the person filing the appeal) may not bring an appeal merely because they were unhappy with the outcome. They must have grounds that an error occurred, such as juror misconduct or misinterpretation of the law, and resulted in an erroneous judgment.

The appeal itself is not a new trial; instead, it asks an appellate court to review the court record for the original trial to determine whether or not legal errors occurred. The court record includes everything that was said during trial, as well as the evidence presented. The appellate justices will make a decision as to whether to uphold or reverse the trial court's decision based on the record and the briefs the appellant and the appellee submit.

The appellant's brief contains arguments pointing to the error that affected their case and why the decision should be reversed. In some cases, the appellate judges may hear oral arguments. Submitting a compelling brief or presenting a persuasive oral argument requires skill that comes from years of practice. If you are seeking to file an appeal, it's crucial you get an attorney on your side who understands this process and can effectively argue your case.

Based on their review of the record and briefs, the appellate judges will either affirm the lower court's decision or reverse it. Affirming the decision means the initial judgment stands.

However, if the appeals court reverses the trial court's judgment, it can order:

  • A new trial
  • Modifications to the judgment
  • Reconsideration of the facts of the case

Seeking to Appeal 
Your Conviction?

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Criminal & Civil Appeals Attorney

Call (214) 891-3382 to Reach Niles Illich, Ph.D., J.D.

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, or if you’re embroiled in civil litigation and need to fight or preserve a judgment entered, you can turn to Scott H. Palmer, P.C. for the legal representation you need. Our appeals attorney, Niles Illich, has handled more than 100 criminal appeals to opinions and has participated in more than 40 oral arguments in both state and federal court. He also has extensive motion practice, where other attorneys hire him to write their motions for them.

Niles is licensed in:

  • Texas state and appellate courts
  • Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas
  • Northern District of Illinois
  • Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi federal appeals)
  • Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin federal appeals)
  • Tenth Circuit (Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming federal appeals)

During his former clerkship with the Honorable Evelyn V. Keyes, Ph.D. of the First Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas, Niles learned how to write in a way that would convince appellate justices. This skill is not acquired easily, and not one learned in law school. Rather, successful appellate representation turns on a manner of thinking and a way of writing that can only be acquired by employing these skills on a regular basis.

    Attorney Niles Illich Your Highly Skilled Advocate

    "I worked as a briefing attorney on the First Court of Appeals in Houston. There I learned how to write in a way that would convince appellate justices. This is not a skill that is acquired easily, and it is not a skill that I learned in law school. Rather, successful appellate representation turns on a manner of thinking and a way of writing that can only be acquired by employing these skills on a regular basis."

    - Niles Illich, Appeals Attorney

    Our Cases Have Appeared in the Media

    • NY Times
    • Dallas News
    • CBS
    • Huff Post
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    Helping Individuals with a Variety of Appellate Matters

    Attorney Niles Illich’s concentration is on criminal appeals. He works in state and federal courts and has traveled as far as Chicago to handle criminal appeals cases.

    In criminal defense cases, we handle matters including but not limited to:

    • Capital Murder
    • Murder
    • Aggravated Robbery
    • Aggravated Assault
    • Fraud
    • Variety of Sex Offenses
    • Variety of Drug Offenses
    • Variety of Intoxication Offenses
    • Variety of Firearms Offenses
    • Theft
    • Burglary, and many other offenses (including some misdemeanors)

    The Court of Criminal Appeals is a discretionary court, and thus very few defendants have a right to have the Court hear their case. Most cases that the Court hears are brought forward on a petition for discretionary review. The Court has granted leave to hear cases that our attorneys have brought.

    Niles has also handled civil appeals and family law appeals, and has represented clients in election disputes, sales tax contests, and mandamus proceedings.

    We have provided representation in federal and state courts in cases concerning:

    • Contracts
    • Property Division
    • Maritime Appeals
    • Foreclosure
    • Shareholder Liability
    • Personal Injury,
    • Protective Orders and a variety of other civil appeals

    Writs & Motions

    In addition to appellate practice, we also represent clients on writs of habeas corpus, writs of mandamus, and 2254/2255 motions.

    This representation has included:

    • Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel
    • Challenges to requirement to register as a sex offender and,
    • Challenges to federal sentences

    Writs are a challenge for any attorney, and many writs require considerable research into nuanced psychological conditions. Our experience in academics permits us to do the required research into a particular condition to establish whether that condition provided a legitimate basis for a defense.

    Resources

    Click on the below links to watch recordings of oral arguments:

    • Christopher Braughton v. State of Texas (in the Court of Criminal Appeals)

    http://www.texasbarcle.com/CLE/CCAPlayer5.asp?sCaseNo=pd-0907-17&bLive=&k=&T=

    • Gregory Webb v. United States of America (Seventh Circuit, Chicago)

    http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/sound/2018/dl.17-1501.17-1501_01_03_2018.mp3 (audio does not begin until 00:23)

    Our Appeals Case Results

    • Murder Verdict Reversed

      Fifth Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, vacated the judgment, and remanded for a new trial with the proper jury instructions. Client offered plea of 7 years, rendering him instantly parole eligible.

    • Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child Verdict Reformed to Lesser Offense

      The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously reversed the Tenth Court of Appeals, vacated the client’s sentence, reformed the verdict to reflect a conviction for a lesser-included offense and remanded for a new sentencing hearing.

    • Drug Possession Case Dismissed

      Fifth Court of Appeals agreed with us and suppressed the illegally seized evidence. Charges dismissed against our client.

    • Indecent Exposure Removed Client from Registry

      Department of Public Safety agreed in part and removed client from registry for one of two offenses. Second offense was challenged through mandamus to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

    • Failure to Pay Sales Tax Case Settled

      We argued that client never owed the sales tax because the item was not taxable. We challenged this through the entire administrative process with the Office of the Comptroller and the State Office for Administrative Hearings.

    • Murder Verdict Reversed

      Fifth Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, vacated the judgment, and remanded for a new trial with the proper jury instructions.

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