Sample Post Trial Appellate Right Letter

December 29, 2018

Mr. Todd Gorman
616 Patterson Road
Towson, Maryland 21286

Re: Gorman v. Magnuson Trucking

Dear Mr. Gorman:

Thank you for allowing us to assist you with your case. I really enjoyed our time together at trial and preparing for this case. I’m glad we were able to get for you the verdict we were able to achieve for you.

post trial appeal letter

Still, while I know you are quite thrilled with the verdict, I need to advise you of your post-trial rights. If you wish to file a motion for a new trial, it must be done within ten (10) days of the entry of judgment. Any motion to revise the judgment because of fraud, mistake or newly discovered evidence would need to be filed within thirty (30) days of the entry of judgment. I do not believe grounds exist to file either motion presently. If you feel there is a reason to file either motion, please call me immediately so that we may discuss it.

If you wish to file an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, that appeal has to be filed within thirty (30) days of the entry of judgment. The only grounds for such an appeal would be if the trial judge made a legal error. The jury’s factual findings are not subject to review. I do not believe – thankfully for us – that there are any appealable issues rising out of this trial for either side. Our representation agreement does not include handling any appeal, so if you wish to pursue an appeal, you should take immediate steps to contact an attorney for that purpose.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to the opportunity to assist you in any future legal matters.  I really enjoyed getting to know you better during the trial and I’m am excited that we were able to get such a great result for you.

Very truly yours,
Ronald V. Miller, Jr.

Why This Letter Is Necessary

Back when I was a defense lawyer, I handled only one plaintiff’s claim. It was a silly legal malpractice claim where most of the malpractice allegations were about trial strategy decisions that seemed wrong in hindsight only because the plaintiff lost. The young partner who took the case almost immediately regretted the decision. But the claim resulted in a decent settlement. Why did it work? The lawyer screwed up the appeal, actually noting the appeal before he was allowed to do so which means it was never filed at all (wildly dumb rule). It gave legs to a case that really had none. So that foolish act of malpractice made everyone second guess everything else the guy did. My point is failing to take this simple step can invite a legal malpractice claim.

Clients also confuse a motion for new trial with an appeal and they see that as evidence that you need to see the entire case through because you filed the motion for new trial. It is a fair understanding.

Many clients also need to understand that an appeal is not a fresh crack because one of the witnesses lied or that the judge was unreasonable. You need to spell this out clearly for the client.

Finally, you need to make sure you send out this letter even when you get a good result in the case. You may think it was a great result and you might think the client agrees. So you can word it as I did in this letter. But make sure they know their rights and that you have documented that you have explained their rights to your client.  We sent this letter in cases where the client was awarded the maximum about of money the client could have received in the case.

The moral of the story is make sure the client understands in a clear, direct way that they have appellate options — even if you won — and you are not going to be handling their case.

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