The Appellate process:
In Louisiana, the first level of direct review starts with the circuit court of appeal. There are five circuit courts of appeal in Louisiana, and each state district court is assigned to only one of those five circuit courts. After the parties file their appellate briefs, the circuit court may hear arguments on the particular issues raised. The court will then analyze the appellant’s claims and the appellant’s answers by reviewing the briefs and the entire district court’s record for that case. The record includes minute entries from court appearances, all written pleadings filed in the trial court and the orders signed by the trial judge. The record can also include transcripts of specific trial court proceedings, including hearings on pretrial motions, trial, and any hearings on post-trial motions. After the circuit court issues its decision, the aggrieved party may challenge the circuit court’s ruling by application to the Louisiana Supreme Court and, in some cases, to the United States Supreme Court.
Appeals and Direct Review
On direct review, a defendant challenges his conviction for errors that occurred at the trial court level, including, but not limited to, application of the law, misconduct in proceedings or unreasonable findings of fact.
Within 30 days of a defendant’s conviction, a notice of appeal must be filed and granted by the trial court. After the trial court grants the appeal, the district court’s record will be lodged with the circuit court of appeal. Once an appeal is lodged, the circuit court of appeal will assign deadlines for the parties to file their briefs. An appellant files for appeal.
If the judgments of conviction and sentence have become final, a defendant may still challenge both by applying for post-conviction relief. Typically, petitions for post-conviction relief are filed with the trial court after the direct appeal process has been completed. The process of post-conviction relief begins when a defendant in custody petitions the trial court to have his or her conviction and sentence set aside. Generally, the time limitation for seeking post-conviction relief is two years from the date the judgment of conviction and sentence become final, subject to certain statutory exceptions.
Typical grounds for seeking post-conviction relief include, but are not limited to, constitutional violations, procedural errors, errors in representation and the discovery of new evidence. If the trial court denies post-conviction relief, a petitioner may apply to the circuit court of appeal to review the ruling. After the circuit court has issued its decision on the claims raised in the application, the aggrieved party may apply to the Louisiana Supreme Court for supervisory review.
Federal Habeas Corpus
A state prisoner may challenge his or her detention by applying for review to the appropriate federal district court. This process of collateral review follows after a defendant has applied for state post-conviction relief and exhausted his or her claims to the state’s highest appellate court.
The deadlines for seeking habeas relief can be complicated and may depend on the claims being raised.
A Law Firm with Experience in Appeals
Martin E. Regan, Jr. has succeeded in obtaining post conviction relief for clients based on illegal sentences, defective constitutional waivers, and reversals of convictions on appeal. Mr. Regan, always aggressive and determined, appealed and won a groundbreaking case in the United States Supreme Court, Foucha v. Louisiana 504 U.S. 71 (1992).
Mr. Regan also represented Curtis Lee Kyles at Kyles’ first two trials, establishing the defense that eventually resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Kyles’ conviction and sentence in 1994, in Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419. Kyles serves as a national standard for pre-trial discovery in criminal cases.
Experience and knowledge count when seeking Post Conviction Relief or seeking federal habeas, as these are steps of critical importance a which require careful consideration and certainty. Attention to detail is the cornerstone of our success and careful analysis of each case is our guiding principle.