Filing for a Federal Appeal?
Work with Our Experienced and Successful Appellate Lawyers
There are some individuals who say that the appeal process for a federal
criminal defendant who has been convicted of a federal crime is the most
important part of the defense process. To put it simply, a direct appeal
may challenge a conviction or sentence. It is the way in which a federal
criminal defendant who has been convicted at the district court level
can have his or her case reviewed by an entirely different court –
an entirely different judge. Unlike the federal trial, however, no witnesses
will testify and no evidence will be presented. A federal appeal is built
entirely on discovering errors in the trial record and arguing these errors
in an appellate brief that is submitted with the appellate court. The
issues contained in the appellate brief are then orally argued to a group
of appellate judges located in the Circuit where the conviction occurred.
An appeal is started by the filing of a notice of appeal with the clerk
of the court in which the case was tried within 10 days after the district
court enters the judgment of conviction,
or within 10 days after the government files a notice of appeal. Federal
criminal defendants must remember that the 10-day time limit is mandatory
and jurisdictional. For this reason alone, it is important to contact
an experienced federal criminal appeals lawyer immediately upon the defendant's
We want our present and future clients to always keep in mind that the
federal appellate process requires many hours of research and writing.
In addition, given the court's volume of appellate cases, most federal
criminal appeals take 1 year to 18 months from the filing of the notice
of appeal to the issuance of a decision.
At Sullivan Brill, our federal criminal defense lawyers continue to successfully
brief and argue federal criminal appeals. Our most recent appeals are:
United States v. Sheikel Jamison: Here, our client was originally convicted in the Southern District of Georgia
for participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. section
846. There was a special jury verdict that the conspiracy involved more
than 5 kilograms of cocaine and Jamison was sentenced to the statutorily
mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. Our appeal partner,
Steven Brill, argued to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta that this sentence
must correspond to the quantity of drugs attributable to the client. The
court agreed, concluding that the client must be sentenced based on an
individualized finding, supportable by a preponderance of the evidence,
as to the drug quantity foreseeable by the defendant. Client's sentence
was vacated and his case remanded for re-sentencing. Ultimately, client
was resentenced to 87 months - saving the client close to 40 months in prison.
United States v. Jose A. Garcia Ortiz
: following trial with other counsel, Mr. Garcia was sentenced to two
concurrent life imprisonment terms for a Hobbs Act violation (Count One)
and a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j) (Count Three), along with a
10-year consecutive term for a § 924(c) violation (Count Two). The
matter was remanded for re-sentencing, because Count One carries a maximum
of only 20 years. We represented Mr. Garcia at the re-sentencing hearing,
and he received a sentence of 51 months for Count One, concurrent to a
240-month sentence for Count Three, and a 5-year consecutive term as to
Count Two. On appeal, we successfully argued that the 5-year consecutive
term for Count Two violated the double jeopardy clause because the conduct
was incorporated into Count Three. In fact, the government conceded the
point. The matter has been remanded for re-sentencing once again.
United States v. Javier Mitchell Hunter : Mr. Mitchell pled guilty, conditional to this appeal, to the possession
with intent to distribute more than 300 kilograms of cocaine on high seas.
In the appeal, we challenged the application of the Maritime Drug Law
Enforcement Act (MDLEA) on jurisdictional grounds. The First Circuit had
to determine whether
Crawford v. Washington applied to pre-trial jurisdictional determinations under the MDLEA, or
whether hearsay was permitted. Unfortunately, the appellate court declined
to extend Crawford to this pre-trial circumstance.
In addition to these appellate court decisions, certain appellate cases
out of the 1st Circuit, briefed, argued by
, and are awaiting decisions are:
United States v. Jose Valdivia. Argued: March, 2011. Issues: Judicial Misconduct, Speedy Trial Act violation,
evidentiary violations, improper expert testimony, incorrect guideline
United States v. Carlos Ayala Lopez (click this link to hear Rachel Brill argue this matter before the 1st
Circuit, on which Supreme Court Justice David Souter was sitting): Argued
February, 2012. Issues: Failure to sever death penalty certified defendant,
insufficiency of evidence as to first degree murder, failure to properly
plead and prove firearms counts.
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