Do you wish to appeal an unfavorable judgment against you or your business? Or did you win in the trial court but are now facing an appeal by your opponent? A trial court’s decision is not necessarily the last word. Let us help you set the record straight and regain the peace of mind you deserve.
Durant Law provides aggressive, effective appellate advocacy in Georgia state and federal courts and litigation support in the trial courts. We have successfully represented businesses and individuals statewide and have helped our clients succeed in appeals involving family law, personal injury, property law, constitutional law, contract disputes, small business litigation, and many other areas.
Unlike larger law firms, we have a narrow focus – appeals in Georgia courts and litigation support in trial courts in anticipation of appeal. M. Katherine Durant is a seasoned, creative, dedicated professional who can provide the fresh perspective and practical experience required to protect your interests on appeal.
If you are currently involved in litigation in the trial court, Durant Law can assist you in evaluating whether the trial court’s orders can be appealed and, more importantly, whether an appeal can be beneficial for you. We invite you to contact us to discuss how our office can work to protect your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
A trial court just ruled against me. Can I appeal? Should I appeal?
Usually, you may appeal orders and judgments in Georgia. But whether you should appeal is another matter. For that reason, the first step in the appellate process is always to decide whether an appeal is warranted, especially to determine whether the trial court committed an error in such a way that it can be corrected on appeal. An appeals attorney can give you an informed opinion on whether pursuing an appeal would be worth your while.
I won at trial, but the other side is appealing. What happens now?
The losing party who is appealing—the appellant—is responsible for making sure that the clerk of court prepares the trial transcript and the record containing all the necessary documents to be sent up to the appellate court. Once the appeal is docketed, the appellant must then file a brief to the appellate court. The “appellee”—the party winning in the trial court—must then file a response brief.
Can't I just represent myself on appeal?
The law does allow you to represent yourself, but appealing (or responding to an appeal) is a complex and risky process requiring not only knowledge of the law but a thorough understanding of appellate rules and procedures. Also, an experienced appellate attorney can identify the best arguments to make on appeal on your behalf and can craft them in such a way as to maximize your chances of success.
Shouldn't I just use my trial attorney for my appeal?
The very best trial lawyer may not be the right lawyer for an appeal. Trials and appeals require decidedly different skills. Busy trial attorneys frequently have little time to draft detailed appellate briefs and, by the end of trial, a fresh set of eyes on a case is often helpful.
At trial, a lawyer’s magnetism, self-confidence, and ability to personally connect with jurors often wins the day. But on appeal, the battle is largely fought in the written briefs to the court. You need an attorney on appeal who not only knows the law but can craft a clear, precise, and well-organized brief that is persuasive and compelling. An appeals lawyer must understand the standards of appellate review, the rules governing preservation of error in the trial court, and the concerns of the particular appellate court. The brief must be credible and thorough, as well as succinct, readable, and logical. Its conclusions should feel unavoidable.
Your attorney’s ability to communicate skillfully in writing will determine the appellate judges’ first impressions of your case, and ultimately their final decisions. Hiring experienced appellate counsel may provide the edge you will need to succeed on appeal.
Is there a deadline for filing my appeal?
There certainly are filing deadlines, and they are short. In most Georgia cases, you have thirty days within which to file your notice of appeal or application for leave to appeal—depending on the type of case. In some cases, the deadlines are even shorter. There are also strict time requirements for attending to the trial record and filing an appellate brief. If you miss a deadline, your appeal will be subject to dismissal. The Georgia rules relating to appealability of judgments and appeal deadlines are notoriously tricky. Your trial attorney may not be familiar with these rules.
If you feel that an order in your case is one that should be appealed, you should notify your trial attorney immediately and ask for a referral to an attorney specializing in appeals who will be able to help in determining whether or when an appeal should be filed.
How long will it take to complete an appeal?
In Georgia, the time frame for the courts to complete appeals are set by statute — all appeals must be decided within two terms of court of the time the appeals are docketed. Certain cases, such as those involving incarcerated individuals and child custody matters, are expedited.
How much does it cost to appeal?
Every appeal is unique, and the amount of an attorney’s time required on an appeal will depend on many factors, such as the complexity of the issues and the length of trial. Both the appellant and appellee will be responsible for their own attorney fees on appeal. Attorney fees for the most simple appeals may be as little as $5,000. But the complexity of the issues, the condition of the trial record, and numerous other factors will increase the amount of fees because of the increased amount of time the attorney must spend on the case.
In addition, the appellant will typically also be responsible for:
Court Fees – The Georgia appellate courts collect a fee and service charge for filing each appeal — $310 in civil cases and $90 in criminal cases, unless a pauper’s affidavit has been filed. To appeal from a federal district court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, a docketing and filing fee of $505.00 is imposed.
Transcripts – You should expect to pay about $1,000 to the court reporter for the transcripts for each full day of trial.
Record on Appeal – The record may cost between $300 and $1,500, depending on the number of documents filed with the trial court that must be reproduced and sent to the appeals court.
To assist our clients in meeting the expense of proceeding on appeal, our office accepts payment by VISA, Mastercard and Discover.