Louisville Criminal Appeals Attorney
Filing a Criminal Appeal in State and Federal Courts
Every accused found guilty by a judge or jury has the absolute right to an appeal to a higher court. This is guaranteed to every person convicted and sentenced, but does not (unless specifically preserved) apply to a case involving the entry of a guilty plea.
A direct appeal in the state and federal courts is to a three-judge panel. In Kentucky, appeals are taken from the circuit court of the county of conviction to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and in certain cases, such as murder, are taken directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court in Frankfort. In all federal cases, a direct appeal is taken from the federal district court (federal trial court) to the Circuit Court of Appeals with jurisdiction over the state in which the federal district court resides. Appeals from the federal trial court in Louisville, called the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, are taken to the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the state-court system, an appeal is taken by the filing of a single-page document titled "Notice of Appeal" in the county circuit court of conviction. This must be done within thirty days of entry of final judgment. If not timely filed, an appeal can be considered waived. The preparation and filing of an appeal should be done by an attorney. Similarly, in the federal courts, the filing of the Notice of Appeal has a strict time-limit for entry or waiver is risked. Federal appeals must be filed by the entry of a Notice of Appeal, in generally the same manner as in the state court, but the Notice of Appeal must be filed in federal cases within ten (10) days of the entry of the final judgment.
Typical grounds for appeal include the trial court's denial of any and all pretrial motions presented in the trial court, review of the fairness in the jury selection process, error in evidence rulings by the trial court judge, a challenge to the guilty verdict in which the sufficiency of the evidence is questioned, prosecutorial abuse or unfairness by the trial judge in rulings throughout presentation of the evidence before the jury. Also, in addition to appealing court rulings or seeking review of the evidence and the conduct of the prosecutor and judge, an individual can appeal the reasonableness and even the legality of the sentence imposed. Excessive punishment can be raised on appeal. The presentation of these, as well as other grounds, generally requires the preservation of issues on appeal. This highly complex process of appealing a conviction and sentence requires the knowledge, experience and skill gained by an experienced appellate attorney who regularly practices in the appellate courts.
David Mejia has over thirty years of experience prosecuting direct appeals in the state courts of Kentucky and Illinois and federal appeals courts for the 6th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts. Through the years, for example, he gained reversals in four cases where his clients were convicted of first degree murder. Most recently, he has gained the reversal of a client's conviction and natural life-sentence in the Kentucky Supreme Court.