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Appealing a Conviction



Because the audiences are different, the skills required to do a trial do not translate on appeal.  At trial, your attorney will be arguing to a jury of your peers that law enforcement or the prosecution made an error in bringing a case forward.  While on appeal, your attorney will be arguing to at least three judges that another judge made an error.  What's more, the argument made by your attorney may be conducted wholly in writing - leaving your hopes for reversal only on the written brief before a panel of extremely knowledgeable judges.


After a notice of appeal from a criminal conviction is timely filed, the appellate attorney prepares the trial record for appellate review.  Transcripts of the hearings are prepared by the court reporters and the court clerk gathers the filings.  Known as the "record on appeal," the opinion later filed by the appellate court will be limited only to those documents and transcripts.  After the record on appeal is completed, the parties submit their briefs.  Each side usually takes about 90 days to file an appellate brief.  The Court of Appeals will decide whether the case gets set for oral argument.  If not, the appellate judges will decide the merits of the case based on the brief on the summary calendar.

The appellate process can be outlined as follows:

  1. Proper Notice of Appeal is filed
  2. The case is docketed at the appropriate appellate court
  3. The record on appeal is compiled
  4. The appellant's brief is filed
  5. The appellee's brief is filed
  6. Any necessary reply briefs are filed
  7. The appellate court receives the briefs and record on appeal
  8. The case is set for argument or summary calendar
  9. The appellate court hears argument or decides the case on brief
  10. The appellate court files its opinion
  11. The losing party decides whether to petition the Kansas Supreme Court for review


After a guilty verdict, defendants have a statutory right to appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals for review of all adverse decisions of the district court.  An appeal is not a retrial of the criminal case.  Instead, an appeal asks a higher court to review the proceedings in district court to ensure defendants received a fair trial.  When errors are found that contributed to the outcome of the trial, appellate courts may reverse the conviction.


If an appeal loses at the Kansas Court of Appeals, a petition for review can be filed.  If the petition is filed appropriately, the Kansas Supreme Court will review the decision of the Kansas Court of Appeals for error.  Like a direct appeal, a petition for review is not a retrial of the criminal case.  The Kansas Supreme Court reviews the opinion filed by the Kansas Court of Appeals for error.  If the Kansas Supreme Court takes a case from the Kansas Court of Appeals, the Court will likely set the case for argument. 


Attorney Adam D. Stolte has represented hundreds of clients at the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court in cases ranging from misdemeanors to murder cases carrying life sentences.  Discuss your case with Appellate Attorney Adam D. Stolte by calling 913-575-8823.