THE HARVARD LAWYER

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HarvardLawyer

THOMAS MICHAEL CURTIS

A VIRGINIA APPEALS LAWYER

     I have a strong background in appellate law and I really enjoy doing appellate work.  It is intellectually interesting work and requires a broad measure of creativity and scholarship that I am able to provide my clients.  An appellate lawyer is the lawyer of last resort for a civil plaintiff or criminal defendant who has lost at trial.  I represent both appellants who are seeking to overturn the verdict at trial and the appellees who are forced to defend their victories in the appellate courts.  I have no preference for representing either appellants or appelles, but it seems that historically most of my work has been for appellants.

     I clerked for the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court early in my career and I worked intimately with the members of the Supreme Court on a wide variety of civil and criminal appellate matters from all over the state.  As a federal prosecutor with the Office of the Independent Counsel in Washington, DC with offices at the Watergate Building, our office successfully defended the constitutionality of the Independent Counsel Statute before the United States Supreme Court in a landmark Separation of Powers case.  In private practice since 1990, I have appealed cases to the federal and state appellate courts in Virginia as well as appellate courts in other parts of the country.  In addition to these direct appeals, I have collaterally appealed other cases to both state and federal courts through writs of habeas corpus and coram nobis, as well as other extraordinary writs.   

     A successful appellate practice requires a lawyer who is attuned to the arguments that judges sitting on the appeals courts are interesting in hearing.   Appeals courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to hear cases and this is especially true of the Virginia Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.  Most appeals courts judges are scholarly and intellectually creative.  To be successful in persuading the appeals courts to accept your case and rule in your favor, it is essential to hire a lawyer who has experience in appellate law and who can craft creative and persuasive arguments.  I have such skills.

     Appeals courts do not simply retry your case.  They are bound by the rules of appellate procedure and they are acutely aware that they are stewards of the law and that the legal precedents they are establishing will guide future generations.  A good appellate lawyer must appeal to this responsibility of the appeals courts judges. In addition, an appellate lawyer must demonstrate to the appeals court that the issues presented for appeal have been preserved for appeal by the trial lawyer or that an exception exists to this requirement.  It is a complicated and specialized area of the law.

     If you hire me to handle your appeal, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that I will personally handle every aspect of your appeal to the conclusion of the appeals process.  I insist on meeting directly with all my clients and keeping them informed of every development in their case at every phase of the appeal.  I pride myself on being a good communicator, both to my clients and to the judges deciding your case.  I personally do all my own research. I personally review every trial transcript and I write every motion, petition and brief that comes out of my office on your behalf.  I have access to the same Lexis, Westlaw and Fastcase national research databases as the largest law firms in the country.  I provide the same services with the same intellectual rigor that you will find in any lawyer at any of the major law firms.  I always represent every single one of my clients with the same zeal in the appeals courts as I do in the federal and state trial courts.  I focus all of my enery and experience to obtain the best possible result for my clients.