Phoenix, AZ criminal defense lawyer Robert J. McWhirter discusses his experience in handling criminal appeals.
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Well, I have extensive history of appeals. I’ve argued in the Ninth Circuit about 35 times, court of appeals. I’ve gotten close to arguing in the Supreme Court twice, but they’ve kind of decided to go with other cases instead of mine, so I’m just this close to arguing in the Supreme Court. And it’s usually a whole range of issues. An appeal takes an attention to detail. It’s more scholarly. It’s written work and it’s marshalling the facts that went at trial to the next level. Most of the appeals I like to handle are cases that I’ve tried myself because often in the trial, in addition to defending my client on the charge, I’m also looking for issues on appeal, and I bring them up in order to lay the groundwork then for a successful appeal later. So usually during a trial you’re trying to keep several balls going at one time and those are the appeals. Now I’ve also done appeals where people have come to me afterward and said, you know, here’s the case. The issue there is then you have to go through the record and see what mistakes were made by somebody else and you’re kind of starting cold and fresh at that point. But then I’ve had successful appeals on those issues as well.