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Civil Litigation

Stuff happens.  I've had cases ranging from real estate deals gone wrong, employers breaching relocation and severance contracts, employees sued on allegations of stealing trade secrets and customer lists, consumer and merchant sales contract issues - the entire list is so wide-ranging and long it is impossible to list here.

When disputes arise, I work to avoid litigation.  But it takes all parties to work together to come to reasonable accommodations, and it's not news to you that some of the people and companies you deal with are not reasonable.  More rarely, all parties can be reasonable but the operative agreement or law is ambiguous enough that the court simply has to hear the evidence and legal argument, and make a decision.

Extremely careful planning must be done from the beginning, to make sure the information is reliable, the evidence is admissible, and the witnesses are available.  It is not unusual for a civil case to take well over a year to bring to trial, and all the pieces need to come together for a successful presentation.  I've seen what happens when a lawyer takes a case at the last minute and/or does not put the work in.  One former client's trial attorney was so unprepared for trial that the first 12 exhibits he offered were ruled inadmissible, and by the end of the first day, the trial court video showed the client cradling his head in his hands as he saw his case slip away.  Don't be in the same spot.  Make sure your attorney understands how the process works - and more important, knows how your story should be told.

Appeals

The prevailing party at trial is usually happy to accept the judgment.  But the other party often feels that something went horribly wrong.  Because judges are human, sometimes something does go horribly wrong.  That's what the appellate courts are for.  But they're not there to fix every problem and mistake the judge made at trial.  Focus on the type of problem that calls for reversal is critical.

There are two main trains of thought on appellate attorneys: some believe that the trial attorney understands the case already and is best able to efficiently present the case on appeal.  Some, however, believe that the trial attorney may be too involved in the case to be objective enough to effectively present the case on appeal.  Each case is different, and I have represented parties on appeal after representing them at trial, and others solely in the appellate courts.

If you have any concerns about whether a case should be appealed, or if the other party has appealed after you won at trial, you need to consult with an experienced appellate attorney as soon as possible, because there are very strict deadlines that will affect your rights.

If your trial did not go well, or if you won and the other side has filed notice of appeal, you need an appellate attorney who understands the difference between the trial and the appeal.

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