I am biased because I practice in this area, but I think the thing to remember is that representing clients on appeal and PCR requires a different skill set than conducting trials or negotiating a good plea bargain. While a trial attorney needs be quick on her feet and have good court presence, a good appellate attorney is one that can relate to judges and persuade through the use of reason rather than emotion. Most of the persuasion will be done through writing; while courts of appeal may routinely grant oral argument, in my experience it rarely adds anything to the written work submitted by the attorneys.
Appeals and postconviction review are paper-heavy cases that require the attorney to spend hours poring over the transcripts of trial (if any) and the record of the indictment/motions/previous decisions/etc. The post-conviction attorney has to keep up with not only the law of criminal procedure that trial attorneys use, but also the law of appellate procedure and postconviction review - and a good postconviction attorney needs to not only state law (3.850, 9.141, etc.) but also the law of federal habeas corpus, because that's the last stop for state prisoners.
I think a good sign that an attorney possesses these qualities - attention span, discipline, attention to detail, the ability to quickly research issues, and well-developed writing skills - is to have done a clerkship after graduation, especially a clerkship with a court of appeals. Judges rely on their clerks to quickly digest and explain the facts and the law of the cases under consideration. Judges also rely on their clerks to produce the first drafts of published opinions, which means they've spent a lot of time writing (but of course less arguing before a jury, or giving practical advice to clients).
Experience counts a heck of a lot here too. But be wary of equating experience at trial with experience on appeals and postconviction review; ask about cases the attorney has done on appeal, in state postconviction proceedings, and on federal habeas corpus review. The Florida Bar does certify attorneys as specialists in the area of criminal appeals (I do not have this certification), but few practitioners have them - I think there are only 52 or so, and many of them are public defenders.
I do hope you'll consider giving me a call. I'll give a 30-minute consultation, and if you (or I) don't think I'm right for the job, I'll try to get you to someone who can take of you. Contact me and we can schedule something.
Answers are for informational purposes, not legal advice for your specific situation. www.appealsandhabeas.com
There are a number of factors including experience, you and your fiancé's comfort in dealing with the attorney, etc. I would strongly consider your speak with several attorneys before you make a decision, you are going to have to spend quite a bit of time with the attorney, so you want to make sure you all get along and communicate well. Good luck with your situation.
This answer does not, nor is it intended to, create an attorney-client relationship or constitute attorney advertising. Rather, it is offered solely for informational purposes. The facts of each case are different and unique, it is critical to consult with qualified counsel with whom information can be shared and assessed under attorney-client privilege, so that competent and quality advice can be obtained on which you can make informed decisions
As Mr. Hackworth indicates, the relationship and trust with the lawyer is very important. You should speak with numerous attorneys to find the right one for you.
As far as "what type of lawyer" is concerned, you should look for someone with experience in post-conviction/appellate experience. Remember, these two disciplines are very different. You may not be able to find an attorney with appropriate experience in both.
I wish you the best.
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You want an appellate attorney, preferably one who has experience with criminal matters. It is more important that the person have appellate experience. I know a number of people who would be a good fit for this. Please give me a call and I will refer you to someone who can help.
My response to this question is a response to a hypothetical situation based on limited facts. I am not your attorney; you are not my client and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. If you need a lawyer, you should contact one in your area. If you would like to talk with me about your case, you can call my office.
Anattorney familiar with criminal appellate work in Florida could tell you whether this case needs an appeal, a post-conviction petition, or both. Each remediy has its own purpose, powers, scope and limits.
Many attorneys are excellent in defending criminal cases at the trial court level. Relatively few are masters of criminal appeal work, and the best appellate lawyers are usually not the same lawyers you might choose at the trial level.
Post-conviction work demands the abilities of a good trial lawyer and a good appellate lawyer together, and also requires familiarity with the complex procedural world of collateral review. One option would be to contact the office that provides appellate and post-conviction defense for death penalty cases in Florida and ask for some recommendations. The lawyers at such an office are most likely to know who in your state is good and experienced in criminal appellate and post-conviction work.