Appellate Practice

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Our firm has a legacy of appellate advocacy at every level of the state and federal appellate courts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas, including the nation’s highest court, the United States Supreme Court. Beginning with the landmark Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Carr, this firm’s founder, Walter C. Chandler, represented Shelby County residents who sought equal voting representation in state and national elections. Later, J. Alan Hanover, a partner in one of our predecessor firms, briefed and argued the case for one of the respondents in the seminal administrative law case of Citizens for the Preservation of Overton Park, Inc. v. Volpe. More recently, in 2016, Michael Rafferty and Emily Huseth were part of a team that briefed and argued the case for the petitioner in the Supreme Court in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., a copyright infringement case involving a dispute over the scope of protection available for the design of a “useful article” – cheerleading uniforms – under the federal Copyright Act.

Appellate representation is a specialized practice that can also sometimes be an even more specialized, discrete type of advocacy, but most often it is the continued representation of a client by trial court counsel in the appellate court for the purpose of either confirming an erroneous ruling or confirming a desired result. Successful appellate advocacy requires trial counsel to identify likely issues for potential appeal and then strategically develop a record for later review by appellate judges. This requires trial counsel to recognize possible issues based on the particulars of the case within current trends in the law.

By definition, the vast majority of cases are not landmark decisions; most cases are applications of existing precedent within the established procedural framework. To achieve the clients’ goals, litigation counsel must know both the controlling substantive law and the governing procedural rules.

Our several trial lawyers defend and prosecute cases in the appellate courts – both federal and state – sometimes to the highest court in the state, to secure justice for our clients. In the federal courts, the United States Supreme Court selects fewer than 100 cases annually, meaning the federal appellate courts, such as the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (which includes Tennessee) in Cincinnati, are the final arbiters of almost every federal case. It is therefore imperative to be fully conversant with any and all precedent peculiar to the respective forum. Being at the intersection of Tennessee (Sixth Circuit), Arkansas (Eighth Circuit in St. Louis), and Mississippi (Fifth Circuit in New Orleans), we are uniquely positioned to assist clients in each of these jurisdictions.

Three of our lawyers – Michael Rafferty, Christopher Campbell, and Emily Huseth – include appellate advocacy as a significant focus of their practice, while appellate representation is an integral part of the litigation practice of all our trial lawyers. Please refer to the individual biographies of our lawyers for their respective portfolio and representative cases.