Mississippi Appeals Attorney. John Grant
Straight out of law school, I started working for judges. I was a clerk for three years for Judge Maxwell. Now, Justice Maxwell, who’s on the Supreme Court. And I really liked it a lot. I liked the type of work.
And I went on to be a Staff Attorney, or the Editor for the Court of Appeals, essentially a Staff Attorney position where I worked on the opinions, which are the written decisions of the court. And I did that for five years. And that’s where I’ve sort of realized that there’s really a need for somebody in Mississippi to handle mainly appeals, as their career. And that is a very different skill set than somebody who does trials. A lot of trial lawyers don’t like to do appeals and don’t know how to do them very well and vice versa. So I’ve really tried to focus on handling appeals because I feel like that’s a need that people have. And we do a whole lot of them and we know how to do them.
I would say, our primary practice area. We probably do more appeal work that we do anything else. And I just don’t think you’re gonna find — probably there’s not any that I’m aware of that — any law firm in Mississippi that mainly does appeal work. And so that’s our emphasis. And we believe that allows us to effectively handle appeals on any type of case, because we do so many of them.
Basically, any type of appeal that goes before the Mississippi Supreme Court or Court of Appeals. There are a couple of types of appeal matters, I would say, we don’t do like Social Security Appeals and Employment Appeals and things like that. But pretty much any other type of case, we would do. Anything that goes before the Supreme Court, that would include family law appeals, criminal appeals, estate matter appeals (we’ve handled appeals and will contest and things like that), summary Judgment appeals, and there are a number of others.
So there are basically three stages to it. The first stage is when you file your notice of appeal, which gets the appeal started. And then there’s some preliminary things after that, where the record is composed. That’s stage one. Stage two is briefing, that’s where each side gets to file their brief where they argue their case to the court. The party that appeals gets to file the first brief, the responding party gets to file a response, and then the appealing party gets to file a rebuttal. So that’s the second stage, the briefing. And then the third stage is the decisional process from the court. And that’s where you basically have to wait for the court to issue their decision. And the court has 270 days from the last brief that’s filed to give you a decision, which they’ll give you in a written opinion. So, from beginning to end, it’s about a year and a half process. Stage one can be up to six months, stage two can be another three to six months, and stage three can be… Basically each one, I would say, is pretty equal. But total, usually, is about a year and a half on average.
So an appeal is very different than a trial. An appeal is mostly on paper. Everything that’s happened in the trial is transcribed, everything that’s been filed is sent to the Supreme Court, and they will review the record. All that stuff just to basically see whether a mistake was made or not. There are no witnesses called. There’s no new evidence presented. It’s all based on arguing points, based on what’s already been done at the trial. So that’s one difference. And I’d say the other major difference is that on appeal you have a number of judges that will consider the case and vote on it, whereas at trial, you have one judge that rules. So, the Supreme Court has nine judges, Court of Appeals has 10 judges who will have to all vote and obtain a majority to have a decision on appeal.
Yeah, we’ve had a number of cases that we’ve won at both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. We’ve won divorce and custody cases. We’ve won criminal cases.
We’ve had summary judgments that we’ve won. A few standout cases. You always remember the ones — or I do that — where you feel like you really made a major difference in somebody’s life. One that stands out, I had a custody case few years ago that we ended up getting reversed for a new trial. And the mother was ultimately able to obtain custody after that. So it completely changed the case. And a good thing happened out of it. I had a criminal case. The guy was facing a 30-year sentence for a non-violent crime. It was going to be mandatory and no eligibility for parole. We were able to get that case reversed on the jury instruction. And he got a new trial. He ended up, ultimately, reaching a favorable plea deal and getting out on time served. So that made a really big difference to him. And then just recently this year, we had a reversal in the Supreme Court where there was a $700,000 jury verdict that we ended up getting reversed and basically vacated at the appellate level, so that our client ended up not owing the judgment anymore based on statute of limitations. It was found to be time barred. So that was another. I would say, it was a major win that we’ve had. But our cases are detailed on our website, either on our attorney bio pages or on the appeals page.