Research and Appeals
The Research and Appeals Department performs the legal research necessary to write briefs for cases going to an appellate court after proceedings in the trial court have concluded. The department also researches the law to help the Assistant District Attorneys who handle the cases in trial court. The Assistant District Attorneys in Research and Appeals write the briefs for the cases on appeal and participate in oral argument before three-judge panels at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. The department also handles other types of appeals a prisoner may pursue. A person convicted of a crime has 30 days after he or she is sentenced to file an appeal. The appellate court’s opinion will become final unless the defendant or the district attorney asks the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the case.
What is the Research and Appeals Department?
The Research and Appeals Department does the legal research necessary to write briefs – legal arguments – when a case goes to an appellate court after proceedings in the trial court have concluded.
The department also researches the law to help the assistant district attorneys who handle cases in the trial court.
What is an appeal?
An appeal is a proceeding in which a person convicted of a crime has a right to have a higher court review his case for error in an attempt to have his conviction reversed or to have his sentence reduced.
Who may appeal?
In a criminal case, generally only the person convicted of a crime may appeal. The district attorney cannot appeal a verdict of not guilty because of the double jeopardy prohibition in the Constitution.
A person convicted of a crime has 30 days after he is sentenced to file for an appeal. At that point the court clerks and court reporter begin compiling the record to send to the appellate court. How long this takes depends on how long the trial lasted and how big of a backlog the clerks and court reporters have. When the record is completed it is sent to the appellate court. At that point the briefs of the defendant and the district attorney should be filed within approximately two months. The court may hear oral argument in the case about one month later and render its ruling within two months of the argument.
The appellate court’s opinion will become final unless the defendant or the district attorney, within 30 days, asks the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the case. If that happens it may be another year before the appeal is over.
Are there other types of appeals?
Yes. After a defendant has completed his appeal, he has two years to seek post conviction relief in state court. If he is unsuccessful, he can ask the appellate court and Louisiana Supreme Court to look at his claims. This request is called a writ. After that, he can still seek a new trial or attempt to get out of jail by seeking habeas corpus in federal court. In this proceeding, the prisoner will attempt to show that a violation of his federal constitutional rights occurred at his trial. If the prisoner is unsuccessful, he can ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme court to review his case.
Louisiana Supreme Court: www.lasc.org
State of Louisiana Fifth Circuit of Appeal: www.fifthcircuit.org
United States Supreme Court: www.supremecourtus.gov