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When Must You Absolutely File an Appeal?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

While any attorney that's really thought out their fee agreement knows, filing an appeal costs extra and requires a new agreement.

However, sometimes after a loss, you may need to file the notice of appeal while the client sorts out new counsel. And after some losses, like when a judge refuses to approve an administrative filing due to the judge's own religious beliefs and pens a detailed opinion supporting their decision, you may actually want to file the appeal yourself.

Below, you can find a few examples of when you absolutely need to file an appeal, or at very least, a notice of one.

The Judge Tosses You a "Crazy" Softball

If you think the above cited example is beyond belief, you may be right, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. In a Tennessee court, a judge refused to grant a name change for a child whose parents sought to name the child Messiah. While the name is, without a doubt, unconventional, the judge's religiously-based rationale for refusing the change belied credulity, and luckily, the state's appellate court agreed.

Questionably, the judge explained in her ruling that "Messiah means Savior, Deliverer, the One who will restore God's Kingdom. Messiah is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ." Clearly, this is what would be considered a "softball" appeal, and the appellate court had a simple time finding the ruling violated the Establishment Clause.

When After Acquired Evidence Is Unignorable

Sometimes things happen during the course of a trial that can make an appeal, well ... appealing. A recent example involves the secret recording of a judge's off the record comments, made by a murder defendant. While the evidence seems pretty damning in that case regardless of what the judge said or thought, who's to say it wouldn't have played out differently if the judge wasn't biased.

When the Bill of Costs Is Enormous

A routine, though dubious, practice involves filing a notice of appeal simply to have some sort of bargaining chip to use for a post-judgment settlement. If you did your job right, there should almost always be at least one or two appealable issues. And luckily, the prospect of another year or more of waiting for the appeal to resolve before the judgment is satisfied can often motivate winning parties to enter into post-judgment settlements.

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