Focusing on Appellate Litigation

When a civil or criminal case goes to trial and a verdict is rendered, the parties involved in the case may have the chance to appeal. It is not always the trial attorney who appeals the case, however. Often, it is beneficial for the trial attorney to refer the case to an attorney who specializes in appellate law. Erin E. McCampbell, a partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, spoke to the Buffalo Law Journal about her experience as an appellate attorney in both civil and criminal matters. The full story is available on the Buffalo Law Journal website.

A fresh perspective

Ms. McCampbell uses her previous experience as a law clerk to federal judges at the trial level and In the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to inform her work handling criminal and civil appellate matters in state and federal courts. She told the Buffalo Law Journal that the job of an appellate attorney is to look at the details of a case with a fresh perspective in order to determine what could be used to sway the appellate court’s decision. “In a trial court, there may have been 20 decisions by a trial judge and maybe the trial attorney thinks a lot of them are wrong,” Ms. McCampbell told the Law Journal. “And they may have been but, as an appellate lawyer, you have to put that aside and figure out what are the two, three, or four issues that are best suitable for a challenge.” Her ultimate goal, she explained, is to gain the court’s attention and put the focus on the most important parts of her client’s case.

Getting other opinions

Appellate court divisions can see thousands of appeals come through annually. Because of this, a brief submitted by an appellate attorney must stand out. Ms. McCampbell has submitted briefs to New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, as well as the United States Supreme Court. The Buffalo market is receptive to referring cases on appeal to other lawyers and to bringing in someone to assist, she told the Law Journal. “It never hurts to have another attorney’s or person’s opinion on where things went wrong [at the trial level]. Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious and other times it is not,” she explained. Ms. McCampbell went on to say that working with the trial attorney can be useful in helping her to discover what the flaws of the case are or where the judge may have misunderstood something while she reviews the transcript. She may also ask her client for their theory on why the initial decision was made. “I want to get the trial lawyer’s perspective, but you also have to set that aside and look at it for what it is and whittle down the arguments to only the few most important,” Ms. McCampbell said.

About Erin E. McCampbell

Erin E. McCampbell is a member of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals practice area and focuses her practice on appellate litigation. She practices in state and federal appellate courts and has significant experience as a law clerk to federal district and circuit judges, which allows her to navigate her clients through the complicated appellate process.