Why An Appellate Attorney Knows the Importance of the Record on Appeal

Posted on 26 June, 2014 at 15:10

A good appellate attorney is very much aware that an appellate court is bound by the record on appeal. That is, the appellate court, also known as the reviewing court, can only review what evidence and issues were presented to the trial court. A good appellate attorney knows that an appellate court is not a forum to retry your failed case based on new facts and new issues. That is why an appellate attorney is always happy to see when a good trial attorney preserves the record on appeal. 


The record on appeal is of vital importance in an appeal as it informs the appellate court of the critical issues that were contested at trial or on a dispositive motion in the trial court. Upon reviewing these preserved appellate issues, the appellate court will decide if the trial court correctly decided the matter. If your trial attorney did not contest these issues, then you did not preserve the record. Consequently, your chances of winning on appeal are exceptionally limited as the appellate attorney’s hands become tied due to the fact that he or she is limited to arguments preserved in the appellate record. 


Assuming your attorney correctly preserved the record, a good appellate attorney must then skillfully present the record on appeal to the appellate court. A skillfully presented record on appeal narrows the contested issues on appeal for the appellate court. An appellate court does not want a voluminous record on appeal. What the appellate court does want is a record that clearly shows what issues are contested and that they were properly preserved. Thus, it is your job as an appellate attorney to ensure that the record compiled for the appeal is focused and streamlined. 


Do not waste your time and the appellate court’s time by compiling a ridiculously voluminous record. This will unnecessarily test the appellate court’s patience and detract from the important issues that the court should resolve. Like a good appellate brief, the record should be crisp and to the point. A focused record on appeal along with a focused appellate brief is the formula to a winning appeal. 


Written by:   Alexandra Siskopoulos, Esq. 

Telephone:   (646) 942-1798 

Email:           [email protected] 


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Categories: Appellate Attorneys