Appeals begin at trial, and they can be won or lost there. Whether making a strategic decision not to object to a piece of evidence or inadvertently failing to preserve an issue for appeal, countless decisions and oversights made during trial can make or break an appeal. Thus, a wise litigator cannot be single-minded; he or she must always appreciate the potential implications accompanying each choice made at trial. And more fundamentally, he or she must recognize each choice that needs to be made.
This article by Finnegan partner Allen Sokal and summer associate Joseph (J.P.) Long, seeks to provide insight into what issues to look for at trial, as well as how to address them. It highlights many of the most common procedural traps for unwary litigators, including filing interlocutory appeals, notices of appeal, and post-trial motions (including motions for judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”), motions for new trial, motions to amend a judgment, motions for relief from judgment, motions for stay pending appeal, and motions to reconsider). Before delving into the details, however, this article provides some basic, overarching principles, illustrating them with some fairly uncommon situations and procedures that can snare even the most attentive litigators.
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