Attorneys in the Appellate Unit represent defendants in appeals of federal conviction and non-capital Habeas Corpus petitions for the District of Arizona.
The Right to an Appeal
An appeal is a process to correct legal errors made in the district court. An appeal is not a chance to present new evidence.
The right to an appeal must be exercised promptly. Defendants and their attorneys should discuss whether to file a “Notice of Appeal” no later than within a few days of sentencing.
If a defendant cannot afford to hire an attorney for an appeal, one will be appointed for him. Appeals from the District of Arizona are heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California.
The defendant’s “Opening Brief” is a written argument that explains the errors that occurred. The prosecutor is allowed 30 days to respond in an “Answering Brief.” The defendant’s lawyer may then file a “Reply Brief” within 14 days. These deadlines may be extended.
The Ninth Circuit may then schedule a short “Oral Argument” to discuss the legal issues with the lawyers, or it may decide that oral argument is not needed. Later, it will issue a decision in the form of an “Opinion” or a “Memorandum Disposition.” Within 14 days of that decision, either side may file a “Petition for Rehearing” asking the court to reconsider its ruling. The entire process can take a year or more.
If the Ninth Circuit denies the appeal, the defendant may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case by filing a “Petition for Writ of Certiorari” within 90 days of the Ninth Circuit’s decision. If the Supreme Court does not accept the case, the Ninth Circuit’s decision becomes final.
If an appeal is not successful, a defendant may file a “Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct a Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255” in the district court. However, the court is not required to appoint a lawyer to help him.