Law Offices of Kenneth H. Lewis
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Writs and Criminal Appeals Attorney

Reversing Sentences and Trials in California - Defendants Can be Freed by Successful Writs & Appeals

Courts make mistakes. There is a mechanism to free defendants. A Writ and/or Appeal corrects court errors. However, this requires an attorney with the specialized knowledge and experienced to work in the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. A trial lawyer may simply lack the ability to write a proper writ or appeal, especially if he or she handled the trial. There just isn't the necessary objectivity to look for the kinds of errors that result in reversals. You need an experienced Appellate Lawyer, like Kenneth H. Lewis with over 35 years experience.

Basic Definitions

  • An Appeal is a review of a lower court's decision or ruling in a case. It can occur in a state court case or federal court case. It can be a jury's decision, or a judge's decision or ruling.
  • A Writ is a term from the old English common law that today normally refers to an extraordinary remedy, i.e. a situation that cannot be remedied on a direct appeal. This often relates to issues concerning the suppression of evidence, or the freedom of an individual.
  • Bond on Appeal is possible if the judge is willing to grant it. It allows a defendant to remain free on bail [bond] while the case is being decided on appeal and is something Kenneth H. Lewis may be able to obtain.

The Appellate Court Process

A court or jury's legal decisions are challenged by filing an appeal. Both misdemeanors and felonies can be appealed. A higher court then goes over the lower courts actions to see if the law was correctly interpreted and followed. No new trial is held at this point; only written documents called a brief or writ are filed. Oral arguments are heard after all written documents are filed. Appeals are time consuming, often taking 6 months to a year to be processed. If a first appeal is not successful, another appeal can often be heard by a higher court, such as the Supreme Court of California or, if federal legal issues are involved, the United States Supreme Court.

Misdemeanor appeals are usually handled by the Superior Court's "Appellate Department".

Sometimes lower court legal errors are corrected by a Writ, an extraordinary remedy that is used when an appeal cannot be used. A common writ is a Writ of Habeas Corpus to challenge a person's incarceration. It is often combined with an appeal, especially if there are issues of incompetency of counsel.

Appellate Definitions

To begin the appeals process, a Notice of Appeal must be filed. Sometimes a defendant can be kept out of custody during the appeal period by having Bail on Appeal granted.

The clerk and court reporter then prepare copies of the trial transcript and court records into documents called the Clerk's Transcript and the Reporter's Transcript which forms the Record on Appeal.

An Appellant's Opening Brief is prepared by the defense, and puts forth the cases and law supporting the reasons why the judge and/or jury's decision should be overturned.

In response the prosecution, usually the California Attorney General's office, files a Respondent's Brief responding to the issues the defendant has raised.

The defense then files a Reply Brief countering the prosecution's arguments.

The reviewing court will then set a date for Oral Arguments where the lawyers will argue the case before the reviewing court.

The Opinion is the written decision of the court, which, in rare cases is published to give legal guidance for other cases. The decision can sometimes be appealed to a higher court.

What Can an Appeal or Writ Do?

  • Obtain a new trial
  • Change an unfair sentence
  • Keep out illegally seized evidence
  • Keep out illegally obtained statements
  • Identify confidential informants
  • Overturn search warrants
  • Correct faulty jury instructions
  • Review the selection of jurors
  • Exclude illegal wiretaps

An Appellate Lawyer With Experience Gets Results!

Kenneth H. Lewis has extensive experience and success in pursing appeals and writs. You stand a much greater chance of success with such an experienced counsel. He is one of the relatively few lawyers to have actually argued a case before the California Supreme Court, People v. Leon. He is not only admitted before all the courts in California, but also the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the United States District Court for the Southern District, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court, where he appeared at counsel's table in the case of California vs. Rooney.

Free consultations are available. Ken Lewis will sit down with you and get all the information necessary to make a determination of what needs to be done. He will go to the jail to interview a defendant if necessary. He will explain the entire appellate process in detail and, if retained, keep in touch with the defendant and any family members or representatives the defendant wants. He will do everything possible to see that the defendant is successful in his appeal or writ. He will never rest until the case is favorably resolved.