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Houston Appellate Attorneys

Not every verdict is final. You may have the right to appeal your case.

If you or a loved one have been involved with a case that has been unsuccessful in the court system, but are hoping to appeal, then finding an attorney experienced in appellate law should be a priority for you. If you won a court case but the other party is taking the case to an appellate court, an appellate law attorney is also a priority. These individuals typically have a special skill set that can be particularly advantageous in an appeals case and their participation in it could potentially make a difference in the outcome.

What is appellate law?

Appellate law refers to the act of appealing a case. When appealing a case, a client is requesting that a higher court review a lower court’s ruling in hopes of a different outcome. Even if a client’s case is won, they could still find themselves involved in appellate court if the other side chooses to appeal the ruling.

Some of the areas of appellate law that a family attorney will focus on may include the reversal or affirmance of judgements regarding:

  • Conservatorship
  • Termination of Parental Rights

What To Know About Appellate Law Cases Regarding Family Law

There are several unique aspects to appellate law that should be noted prior to beginning an appellate case. These distinctions can negatively or positively affect the outcome of a client’s case.

  • Time can be of the essence as some cases are accelerated appeals. For example, in cases involving Child Protective Services (Department of Family Protective Services) clients may have as little as twenty days to perfect their appeal.
  • There is no such thing as a clean slate. Appellate attorneys cannot introduce new evidence. Appellate cases are built on a record of the things that took place during the initial trial. This includes the pleadings of the lawyers, Orders of the court, the testimony, and the exhibits from the trial.
  • Procedure must be followed. It is crucial that every aspect of an appeals case follows procedural rules precisely to ensure success. An error in procedure could cause the appeal to be unsuccessful before an argument is ever presented.

How Typical Appellate Law Cases Work In Texas

Once a party declares that they plan to appeal a case, the appeals process can begin in earnest. While the process can vary from one case to the next depending on each case’s specific circumstances, the following process may hold true for most typical appellate law cases:

  • A notice of appeal is filed.
  • Court information is requested to be filed. This can include specific reasons for the Court’s ruling, clerk’s records, and reporter’s records.
  • Appellant and Respondent briefs are filed. These are very detailed documents that require cross references to case law, statutes and the trial court record.
  • Case is submitted to a panel of three judges in the Court of Appeals. The case consists of existing documents and transcripts from the original trial.
  • It can take months or longer after the case is submitted before a decision is made.
  • In some cases, the release of an opinion may prompt a party to file a motion for a rehearing or a Petition for Review to the Texas Supreme Court, which greatly extends the timeline of an appeal case.

While each of these steps can have various deadlines, it is important to understand that extensions are often requested and granted, which can then further extend the timeline of an appellate case.

Why Hire A Houston Appellate Law Attorney For Your Case

When hiring an attorney for trial court proceedings it can still be quite beneficial for the client to select legal representation with a background in appellate law. Although the goal is for a client’s case to be won outright in the trial court, extenuating circumstances may at times put that outcome at risk and could require the case to be appealed.

In this instance, an attorney with expertise in appellate law would already have an intimate understanding of the various aspects of the case, including the statements and actions of case participants, which can impact the outcome of an appeal. Since appellate cases are based on a record of what happened during the initial trial, a good appellate lawyer will proceed through any case with an eye towards appealing or defending the case. It is a wise strategy to look at any position, especially a novel one, from the position of having to convince three (3) new judges of the soundness of your argument.

What To Look For In An Attorney For Appellate Law

When looking for an attorney that specializes in appellate law, clients will want to keep several considerations in mind:

  • Hire a lawyer with expertise in appellate law to help with the initial case. This way the attorney can simultaneously build an appellate case in the event that it is required.
  • When dealing with family matters such as conservatorship, child custody, juvenile crime, property division, and termination of parental rights, it is prudent to ensure that the attorney is also well versed in family law, child welfare law or juvenile law.
  • Choose an attorney with an excellent client and industry reputation for success.
  • Ensure that the attorney has an intimate understanding of Texas law and court systems, including how to file the proper motions and briefs required.
  • Understand upfront exactly what fees will be incurred at every step of the appellate process, including for cases that may hang in the balance for up to several months or more.

If you are considering appealing a court case or find yourself having to defend your previous win, consider arranging a consultation with one of our Houston appellate attorneys.


What does appellate law mean?

This term usually describes the law of a court that reviews the decisions of a lower court.

How long does it take for an official opinion on an appealed case?

The timeline for appellate cases varies greatly depending on the specific circumstances of each.

When should I hire an appellate law attorney?

It may be best to hire an appellate law attorney for the initial case before the thought of an appeal is even entertained.

Can new evidence be introduced in an appeals case?

The court does not allow new evidence to be introduced during the appeal process.

Does my case have to go to an appellate court if I win my case?

No, but if the other party chooses to appeal your win, the case will go to an appellate court where you will have to defend that victory on appeal.