Appellate Law

When a judge makes a legal ruling in a contested case, the losing party may file an appeal to ask a higher court to review the decision. Whether you are the winner or the loser in the trial or probate court, there is a good chance your case may be reviewed by a court of appeals, especially if the case involves complicated legal or factual issues.  An appeal is more than a just a new stage in the life of a case–it is a separate legal proceeding in a different court with different procedures and rules than those followed by trial and probate courts.  The lawyers in an appeal will review all of the relevant proceedings from the trial court, research the law on the disputed issues, and prepare and file lengthy legal briefs to inform the court of the law and to persuade the court of appeals to rule in favor of their clients.

Appellate rules do not allow a party to present legal claims or defenses or the supporting  evidence unless they are first presented and recorded in the trial or probate court.  In addition, a party who believes a trial or probate judge has made a legally incorrect ruling must follow specific procedures to bring the error to the trial court’s attention to give the judge the opportunity to correct the mistake. This process is called “preserving error.” A party who does not follow the procedure to preserve error properly may lose the right to appeal the lower court’s ruling. And a party who does not present evidence properly “on the record” in the lower court cannot discuss that evidence on appeal.

A good appellate attorney can identify the best legal positions to take in a client’s case and the type of evidence needed to support those positions.  In addition, an attorney with an appellate background can ensure that proper procedures are followed to preserve error, and will have a next-level awareness of how trial and probate court proceedings will be perceived by an appellate court.

Not all litigation attorneys have the skills and experience needed to handle an appeal effectively, and many parties in lawsuits find themselves hiring another attorney to handle the appeal.  Some parties hire an appellate attorney to attend the trial and help the trial lawyer present crucial evidence properly and preserve error for an anticipated appeal. In addition, an appellate attorney who participates in the trial will have a head start on appeal as opposed to one who knows nothing about the case when he is first retained to handle the appeal.

During my 30 plus years of practice, I have represented clients in the appellate courts as well as trial and probate courts.  My appellate cases have covered a broad range of legal areas in addition to probate, trust, and estate matters. I am admitted to practice before the Texas Court of Appeals the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Many of my appellate cases have resulted in published opinions that serve as legal precedent for future cases.  Here is a list of reported opinions in some of my appellate cases:

  1. Gonzalez v. Medina, 2015 WL 1743278 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi,  Apr. 16, 2015, no pet.).
  2. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Roye, 447 S.W.3d 48 (Tex. App. –Houston[14th Dist.] 2014, pet. dism'd )
  3. Kirkpatrick v. Cusick, 2013 WL 6730049 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi, Dec. 19, 2013, no pet.).
  4. Garner v. Kennedy, 713 F.3d 237 (5th Cir. 2013).
  5. Garza v. Zachry Const. Corp., 373 S.W.3d 715 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2012, pet. denied).
  6. Sawyer v. E. I.  du Pont de Nemours and Co., 754 F.3d 313 (5th Cir. 2014).
  7. Sawyer v. E. I.  du Pont de Nemours & Co., 430 S.W.3d 396 (Tex. 2014).
  8. Ross v. Womack, 2008 WL 4822208 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2008).
  9. Alaniz v. Hoyt, 105 S.W.3d 330 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 2003).
  10. Harbor Perfusion, Inc. v. Floyd, 45 S.W.3d 713 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 2001).
  11. Seven Seas Fish Market, Inc. v. Koch Gathering Systems, Inc., 36 S.W.3d 683 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 2001).
  12. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lane, 31 S.W.3d 282 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 2000).
  13. Vanliner Ins. Co. v. Texas Workers' Compensation Com'n, 999 S.W.2d 575 (Tex. App.– Austin 1999).
  14. H & R Block, Inc. v. Haese, 992 S.W.2d 437 ( Tex. 1999).
  15. Gulf Shores Council of Co-Owners, Inc. v. Raul Cantu No. 3 Family Ltd. Partnership, 985 S.W.2d 667 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1999).
  16. Balogh v. Ramos, 978 S.W.2d 696 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 1998).
  17. Prudential Securities Inc. v. Shoemaker, 981 S.W.2d 791 (Tex. App.– Houston [1st Dist.] 1998).
  18. Koch Gathering Systems, Inc. v. Harms, 946 S.W.2d 453 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 1997).
  19. Berkheimer v. Upton, 1997 WL 33760926 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1997).
  20. Sysco Food Services, Inc. v. Trapnell, 890 S.W.2d 796 (Tex. 1994).
  21. Chapa v. Garcia, 848 S.W.2d 667 (Tex. 1992).
  22. Trapnell v. Sysco Food Services, Inc., 850 S.W.2d 529 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1992).
  23. Trapnell v. John Hogan Interests, Inc., 809 S.W.2d 606 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1991).
  24. Insurance Co. of North America v. Westergren, 794 S.W.2d 812 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1990).
  25. Trapnell v. Hunter, 785 S.W.2d 426 (Tex. App.– Corpus Christi 1990).
  26. E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. v. Sawyer, 517 F.3d 785 (5th Cir. 2008).
  27. Stevenson v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., 138 Fed.Appx. 634, 2005 WL 1509703 (5th Cir. June 27, 2005).
  28. Stevenson v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., 327 F.3d 400 (5th Cir. 2003)